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England Postwar Lineups and Match Highlights
By Norman Giller, Football Author

Part 8:  1980-81 to 1984-85

Norman Giller, long-time football journalist and author of more than 60 football books, has generously sent us England lineups and match highlights from his recent Billy Wright biography, reviewed elsewhere on this website, and his book on England's managers, Don't Shoot the Manager (1994), with permission to reproduce them.

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No 321

Norway, Wembley, 10.9.80. England won 4-0

Shilton    Anderson   Sansom    Thompson*  Watson    Robson           

Gates    McDermott2   Mariner1   Woodcock1  Rix

Highlights: Without Keegan, Wilkins, Brooking, Coppell and Trevor Francis, a new-look England attack took a long time to get into its stride in this opening qualifying match for the 1982 World Cup finals. A Terry McDermott goal in the thirty-fifth minute calmed jangling nerves, and England finally won comfortably with three goals in the last thirty-three minutes through Tony Woodcock, a McDermott penalty and a beautiful creation by Paul Mariner, who skillfully deceived three defenders before firing the ball majestically into the net with his left foot. Bryan Robson was a powerhouse in midfield and Eric Gates and Graham Rix made satisfactory debuts.

No 322

Romania, Bucharest, 15.10.80. England lost 2-1

Clemence   Neal   Sansom  Thompson*   Watson   Robson     

Rix    McDermott   Birtles (Cunningham)  Woodcock1  Gates (Coppell)

Highlights: A controversial penalty decided this game in the seventy fifth minute and dealt a severe blow to England's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup finals. Kenny Sansom angrily protested his innocence after his tackle on Iordanescu had been ruled a foul. The Romanian picked himself up and scored the winning goal from the penalty spot. England had just been getting on top after Tony Woodcock scored in the sixty-sixth minute following a neat exchange of passes with Garry Birtles. Romania had their best moments in the first-half and scored at the peak of their pressure through Raducanu in the thirty-sixth minute.

No 323

Switzerland, Wembley, 19.11.80. England won 2-1 (own goal1)

Shilton    Neal   Sansom  Robson  Watson   Mills*       

Coppell   McDermott   Mariner1   Brooking (Rix)  Woodcock

Highlights: England were leading comfortably 2-0 at half-time through goals by Tony Woodcock (a deflected shot) and Paul Mariner, and there was no hint of the way the pendulum of play would swing Switzerland's way in the second-half of this crucial World Cup qualifier. Trevor Brooking, who had been dominant in midfield, started feeling the effects of an old injury and when his output dropped England began to struggle to contain a suddenly lively Swiss side. A long period of Swiss pressure was finally rewarded when Pfister drove a scorching shot wide of Peter Shilton, and England clung on desperately for a victory that revived their World Cup hopes.

No 324

Spain, Wembley, 25.3.81. England lost 2-1

Clemence   Neal   Sansom  Robson   Butcher  Osman  

Keegan*    Francis T. (Barnes)  Mariner   Brooking (Wilkins)  Hoddle1 

Highlights: England were on the way to their first home defeat under Ron Greenwood from the moment Satrustegui snatched an early goal following a misunderstanding at the heart of the defence between Ipswich partners Terry Butcher and Russell Osman. A rain-saturated surface seemed to give England greater problems than their opponents, and it was against the run of play when Glenn Hoddle equalised with a blistering volley after a Bryan Robson cross had been blocked in the twenty-seventh minute. Spain quickly regained the lead through Zamora, and only their weak finishing prevented them scoring a more emphatic victory. As host of the 1982 World Cup finals, Spain were desperate to find a winning combination and they played with more urgency than a strangely lethargic England side. It was Ron Greenwood's first experience of defeat at Wembley, and sections of the media were now pointing their poison pens at him.

No 325

Romania, Wembley, 29.4.81. Drew 0-0

Shilton  Anderson   Sansom     Robson   Watson*   Osman 

Wilkins   Brooking (McDermott)   Coppell            Francis Woodcock

Highlights: Anxiety anchored the England forwards in front of goal, and they missed vital chances that could have clinched victory in this World Cup qualifying match against their closest group rivals. England's defence generally dominated the Rumanian forwards, but there was one amazing escape when Peter Shilton's feet slipped from under him as he reached for a dipping header from Balaci during a rare raid in the thirty-third minute. Shilton was lying on the ground as he scooped the ball clear with two Rumanian forwards bearing down on him. England's players went off to the sound of boos and jeers, and with their prospects of qualifying for the World Cup looking remote. They had only away games against Switzerland and Hungary in which to salvage a place in the finals.

No 326

Brazil, Wembley, 12.5.81. England lost 1-0

Clemence*   Neal   Sansom  Robson   Martin  Wilkins 

Coppell   McDermott     Withe    Rix   Barnes

Highlights: Peter Withe, making his debut in the centre of the shot-shy England attack, came within inches of ending the goal famine in the last minute against Brazil when his header hit the inside of a post before being cleared. An equaliser would have been an injustice to a Brazilian team that played with a lot of their traditional flair, particularly in the twelfth minute when Zico outsmarted two England defenders before powering a shot past Ray Clemence. Alvin Martin had a tough baptism in the middle of the defence against Reinaldo, but could be pleased with his display in a heartening England performance that earned an ovation from the Wembley crowd despite another defeat.

No 327

Wales, Wembley, 20.5.81. Drew 0-0

Corrigan  Anderson   Sansom     Robson   Watson*   Wilkins  

Coppell   Hoddle   Withe (Woodcock)  Rix  Barnes

Highlights: England's lack of goal power was beginning to eat at their confidence, and they scrambled a draw against a Welsh side buoyed by six successive victories. Crystal Palace striker Ian Walsh missed two glittering opportunities to tie up the game for Wales early in the second-half. England were setting unwanted records as the pressure increased on manager Ron Greenwood. For the first time they had gone three consecutive games without scoring, and it was the first time in history that they had gone four matches at Wembley without a victory.

No 328

Scotland, Wembley, 23.5.81. England lost 1-0

Corrigan   Anderson     Sansom   Wilkins  Watson* (Martin)  Robson  

Coppell   Hoddle   Withe  Rix   Woodcock (Francis T.)

Highlights: A sixty-fifth minute penalty by Nottingham Forest winger John Robertson won this match for Scotland as England continued their miserable form in front of goal. England argued that they should have had a penalty at the opposite end when substitute Trevor Francis was pulled down by Willie Miller, but the French referee waved play on. England's goal famine was now becoming a national joke, and manager Ron Greenwood was being held up to ridicule. A true gentleman of the game, Greenwood found it all extremely distasteful but retained his dignity and refused to get involved in slanging matches with the tabloid reporters taking pot shots at him.

No 329

Switzerland, Basle, 30.5.81. England lost 2-1

Clemence  Mills   Sansom  Wilkins   Watson (Barnes)  Osman 

Coppell   Robson    Keegan*   Mariner   Francis T. (McDermott1)

Highlights: For nearly thirty minutes England outplayed Switzerland in this World Cup qualifier, and it was totally unexpected when the Swiss suddenly swept into the lead with two goals in a minute. Ron Greenwood attempted a salvage operation by sending on Terry McDermott for Trevor Francis and pushing Kevin Keegan forward into a striker's role. It was McDermott who at last ended England's run of almost eight hours without a goal when he collected a Steve Coppell pass in the fifty-fifth minute and buried a shot in the Swiss net. But Switzerland held out under enormous pressure to record their first victory over England for thirty-four years. To add to England's despair, the hooligan element among their supporters caused more sickening problems on the terraces. Only a victory in the following match in Hungary could keep alive England's slim hopes of making it into the World Cup finals. The appalling behaviour of the England supporters meant that most neutrals would have been quite happy to see them fail to make it to Spain, and there were whispers that the powers-that-be at FIFA were considering a ban on England.

No 330

Hungary, Budapest, 6.6.81. England won 3-1

Clemence   Neal   Mills   Thompson      Watson   Robson        

Coppell   McDermott   Mariner   Brooking2 (Wilkins)   Keegan*1

Highlights: England dug deep to come up with one of their finest performances under the Greenwood banner and against all the odds they breathed life back into their World Cup campaign. Trevor Brooking gave England an eighteenth minute lead which the Hungarians cancelled out seconds before half-time. It was in the second-half that England really turned on the pressure, and they got their reward in the shape of a brilliantly taken goal by Brooking, who drove a rising shot so powerfully after accepting a pass from Kevin Keegan that the ball jammed in the net behind the stanchion.  Keegan put the result beyond doubt when he scored from the penalty spot in the seventy third minute after being brought down by a desperate tackle. Brooking and Keegan were devastating together and were the main motivators of one of the greatest displays ever seen from an England team on a foreign field.

No 331

Norway, Oslo, 9.9.81. England lost 2-1

Clemence   Neal   Mills   Thompson      Osman   Robson1       

Keegan*   McDermott     Mariner (Withe)  Francis T.  Hoddle (Barnes)

Highlights: After hitting the heights against Hungary, England sunk to an all-time low when they lost to Norway's team of part-time professionals � a defeat that seemed certain to end their World Cup hopes. Bryan Robson gave England a fourteenth minute lead and a comfortable victory looked well within reach, but the Norwegians battled back to snatch a thirty-fourth minute equaliser that gave them the momentum to go on to what was considered the greatest triumph in a football history that had mostly been about taking part. Thorensen took advantage of dithering in the England defence in the fortieth minute to force home what proved the match-winning goal. It was a humiliating defeat to rank with the 1950 World Cup loss to the United States. Once again, the knives were out for Ron Greenwood. The game lives on through the delirious words of Norwegian television commentator Bjorn Minge, who switched to English as the final whistle blew to tell the world:  'Lord Nelson! Lord Beaverbrook! Sir Winston Churchill! Sir Anthony Eden! Clement Attlee! Henry Cooper! Lady Diana! Maggie Thatcher - can you hear me, Maggie Thatcher! Your boys took one hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating!'

No 332

Hungary, Wembley, 18.11.81. England won 1-0

Shilton   Neal   Mills     Thompson   Martin   Robson   

Keegan*   Coppell (Morley)   Mariner1  McDermott  Brooking

Highlights: England came back from the dead to clinch a place in the World Cup finals with this nervously constructed victory over Hungary. The door to the finals in Spain was re-opened by group favourites Rumania making a mess of their final qualifying match, and England needed only a point against Hungary to book their tickets. Paul Mariner scored the vital match-winning goal in the sixteenth minute, scrambling the ball into the net after a mishit shot by Trevor Brooking had confused the Hungarian defenders. Hungary were already assured of their place in the finals, and were content to concentrate on defence and they looked in danger of conceding a second goal only in the final moments when Tony Morley, making his debut as a substitute, had his shot well saved by goalkeeper Meszaros.  Rumours of the death of English football were greatly exaggerated.

No 333

Northern Ireland, Wembley, 23.2.82. England won 4-0

Clemence   Anderson   Sansom   Wilkins1   Watson    Foster

Keegan*1   Robson1   Francis T. (Regis)  Hoddle1  Morley (Woodcock)

Highlights: Goalkeeper Pat Jennings was picking the ball out of the Irish net after only forty four seconds of his ninetieth international following a typical burst from Bryan Robson. England were experimenting with a sweeper system, Ray Wilkins playing behind the back line of the defence, and there was a lack of rhythm in their play after their dream start. It was not until the second-half that they proved their supremacy with goals from Kevin Keegan, Wilkins and Glenn Hoddle. Cyrille Regis replaced the limping Trevor Francis in the sixty-sixth minute for his first experience of international football and was only inches wide with a diving header. Brighton defender Steve Foster won the first of his three England caps in an England defence that settled comfortably to the sweeper trial.

No 334

Wales, Caerdydd, 27.4.82. England won 1-0

Corrigan   Neal   Sansom   Thompson*  Butcher  Robson        

Wilkins  Francis T.1 (Regis)  Withe      Hoddle (McDermott)  Morley

Highlights: Trevor Francis gave England their first victory over Wales in five matches when he struck a powerful shot high into the net after Bryan Robson had pushed a short free-kick into his path in the seventy-fourth minute. Glenn Hoddle had looked the most inventive player on the pitch, and England lost a lot of their poise and control when he limped off early in the second-half. Wales were always a threat and goalkeeper Joe Corrigan rescued England with three outstanding saves. England played a conventional defence, with Phil Thompson and Terry Butcher proving rock-solid partners.

No 335

Holland, Wembley, 25.5.82. England won 2-0

Shilton*   Neal    Sansom   Thompson   Foster  Robson           

Wilkins  Devonshire (Rix)   Mariner1 (Barnes)  McDermott  Woodcock1

Highlights: Holland's young experimental team were sunk by two goals in five minutes immediately after half-time by Tony Woodcock and Graham Rix. It was Rix, Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins who bossed the match in midfield, and assured a victory for Ron Greenwood in his last Wembley match as manager. He had already decided to stand down at the end of the World Cup finals. Goalkeeper Peter Shilton captained England for the first time, and was at last clearly Greenwood's number one choice.

No 336

Scotland, Hampden Park, 29.5.82. England won 1-0

Shilton   Mills   Sansom   Thompson   Butcher   Robson           

Keegan* (McDermott)  Coppell   Mariner1 (Francis T.)  Brooking  Wilkins

Highlights: Old heroes Tom Finney and George Young led the teams out for this one hundredth meeting between Scotland and England. Paul Mariner's brave header in the thirteenth minute clinched the home championship for England and gave them their third successive victory at Hampden Park. England's 100 per cent record gave them the Home Championship and raised their hopes of making a decent challenge for the World Cup. England exposed flaws in the Scottish tactics that manager Jock Stein knew he had to iron out before they went into a difficult World Cup finals group that included Brazil and Russia.

No 337

Iceland, Reykjavík, 2.6.82. Drew 1-1

Corrigan   Anderson     Neal*   Watson   Osman   McDermott 

Hoddle   Devonshire (Perryman)  Withe   Regis (Goddard1) Morley

Highlights: Ron Greenwood fielded his second-string team from his World Cup squad, and they struggled in difficult conditions on a frozen pitch to hold an enthusiastic Iceland team. Paul Goddard, making his debut as a substitute for injured Cyrille Regis, cancelled out Iceland's twenty-third minute lead when he ran on to a precise pass from Glenn Hoddle and steered the ball home in the sixty-ninth minute. It was Goddard's only cap, and he found his way into the record books by becoming the first England player to score while playing less than a full match. Glenn Hoddle looked the pick of the England players on an uneven surface that made ball control difficult.

No 338

Finland, Helsinki, 3.6.82. England won 4-0

Clemence   Mills   Sansom  Thompson   Martin    Robson2  (Rix)

Coppell (Francis T.) Wilkins  Brooking (Woodcock)  Keegan*  Mariner2

Highlights:  A goal apiece in each half by Paul Mariner and Bryan Robson gave England their sixth victory in six months and sent them into the World Cup finals in a quietly confident mood. The match was staged to celebrate Finland's seventy-fifth anniversary, and the outplayed Finns had the consolation of a penalty goal in the eightieth minute.  It was recalled that in 1966 England beat Finland in Helsinki in their final warm-up match before the World Cup finals. With Kevin Keegan back after injury, England went to Spain in buoyant mood.

No 339

France, World Cup, Bilbao, 16.6.82. England won 3-1

Shilton  Mills*  Sansom (Neal)   Thompson  Butcher  Robson2           

Coppell   Wilkins    Mariner1   Francis T.   Rix

Highlights: England had a dream send-off to the World Cup finals when Bryan Robson scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the tournament. He struck in just twenty-seven seconds, lashing the ball left footed past a startled French goalkeeper after Terry Butcher had headed on a quickly taken Steve Coppell throw from the right. France recovered from this shattering start to equalise after twenty-five minutes, but England raised their pace despite scorching heat in the second-half and the switch by Ron Greenwood of Graham Rix to a left-sided role in midfield proved a tactical masterstroke. Rix, playing in place of the injured Trevor Brooking, enjoyed his new freedom and England took full control when Robson headed in his second goal in the sixty-seventh minute. Paul Mariner underlined England's supremacy with a close-range shot following a defensive mix-up. It was the fifth successive international in which the Ipswich striker had found the net. This was an encouraging start for an England team missing the input of their most famous player, Kevin Keegan, who was suffering a recurrence of an old back injury.

No 340

Czechoslovakia, World Cup, Bilbao, 20.6.82. England won 2-0

Shilton  Mills*  Sansom Thompson  Butcher  Robson   

Coppell  (Hoddle)   Wilkins   Francis T.1    Mariner1  Rix

Highlights: Two fortunate goals in three minutes midway through the second-half booked England's place in the second phase of the finals. Trevor Francis rammed the ball into the net after Czech goalkeeper Semen had dropped a Ray Wilkins corner, and then Czech defender Barmoš diverted the ball into his own net as Francis raced to meet a pass from Paul Mariner. A blow for England was that they now had Bryan Robson joining Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking on the injury list.

No 341

Kuwait, World Cup, Bilbao, 25.6.82. England won 1-0

Shilton  Neal  Mills*   Thompson  Foster Hoddle                     

Coppell  Francis T.1  Mariner  Rix Wilkins

Highlights: A gem of a goal by Trevor Francis was the one highlight of England's third World Cup victory against a Kuwaiti side that battled bravely and with some eye-catching skill. The match-winning goal came in the twenty-seventh minute when Mariner back heeled a Peter Shilton clearance into the path of Francis, who set off on a thirty yard run that he climaxed by sliding the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper. Kevin Keegan made a secret trip back to Germany for specialist treatment on his back injury in a desperate bid to get fit for the late stages of the tournament.

No 342

West Germany, World Cup, Madrid, 29.6.82. Drew 0-0

Shilton   Mills*  Sansom Thompson   Butcher  Robson             

Coppell  Francis T. (Woodcock) Mariner  Rix Wilkins

Highlights: England and West Germany have had some classic confrontations on the football field, but this was not one of them. The Germans decided on a policy of suffocating defence, and the game deteriorated into a midfield muddle. Bryan Robson came closest to scoring for a England with a first-half header that was tipped over the bar by Schumacher, and the subdued, half-fit Rummenigge threatened to win the match with one moment of brilliance. His sniper shot from twenty-five yards rocked the England crossbar in the closing minutes of a best-forgotten game. England now had to beat Spain by two clear goals to qualify for a place in the semi-finals.

No 343

Spain, World Cup, Madrid, 5.7.82. Drew 0-0

Shilton    Mills* Sansom Thompson  Butcher Robson               

Rix (Brooking)   Francis T.  Mariner  Woodcock (Keegan) Wilkins

Highlights: Ron Greenwood's final game as manager ended in a frustrating draw with the host country and a sad exit from the World Cup. England were unable to put the vital finishing touch to some excellent approach work that was a good advertisement for the quality football that Greenwood has always believed in. Greenwood finished his reign with a rare gamble against a Spanish team determined not to be beaten. He sent Kevin Keegan and Trevor Brooking on in the sixty third minute for their first World Cup action, and the double substitution so nearly brought reward. Keegan headed wide from the best chance of the match and Brooking had a rasping shot well saved. Exit Ron Greenwood (55 matches, won 33, drew 12 and lost ten). Enter Bobby Robson, who had been named as England's next manager during the World Cup finals.

No 344

Denmark, Copenhagen, 22.9.82. Drew 2-2

Shilton  Neal    Sansom    Wilkins*   Osman   Butcher  

Morley   Robson  Mariner  Francis T.2   Rix (Hill)

Highlights: Jesper Olsen stopped Bobby Robson celebrating a victory in his first match when he conjured a spectacular last minute goal that gave Denmark a thoroughly deserved draw in this European championship qualifier. Olsen outwitted three England defenders in a jinking run before guiding the ball wide of Peter Shilton, who had performed minor miracles keeping out the talented Danish forwards. Trevor Francis had given England a seventh minute lead, but they were then forced on the defensive and it was thanks mainly to the acrobatics of Shilton that the Danes had to wait more than an hour before they finally got an equaliser through a Hansen penalty. Francis scored his second goal ten minutes from the final whistle with a hooked shot that restored England's lead and looked like being the winner until Olsen's moment of magic. Ricky Hill became Robson's first new cap when he came on as substitute for Tony Morley in the eighty-third minute. A major surprise was that Robson had decided to kick off his reign without Kevin Keegan, whose international career ended after sixty-three caps.

No 345

West Germany, Wembley, 13.10.82. England lost 2-1

Shilton     Mabbutt   Sansom   Thompson   Butcher  Wilkins*   

Hill   Regis (Blissett)      Mariner (Woodcock1)   Armstrong (Rix)  Devonshire

Highlights: England had the better of the first-half during which new cap Gary Mabbutt hit a post with a fierce cross shot, but the Germans took control when Pierre Littbarski came on as substitute just twenty-four hours after helping Germany beat England 3-2 in an Under-21 international in Bremen. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge ended brave resistance by England's overworked defence in the seventy second minute when he delicately chipped the ball over Peter Shilton, and shortly after he held off a tackle from Terry Butcher as he swept the ball into the net from a Littbarski cross. Tony Woodcock scored for England four minutes from the end with a shot that went in off the bar. Luther Blissett came on as a substitute in the eightieth minute for his first taste of international football.

No 346

Greece, Salonika, 17.11.82. England won 3-0

Shilton   Neal   Sansom   Thompson      Martin   Robson*        

Lee1    Mabbutt   Mariner  Woodcock2   Morley

Highlights: Tony Woodcock, playing in borrowed boots, put England on the way to a first victory under Robson with a goal in the second minute, and he made it 2-0 in the sixty-fourth minute of this European championship qualifier. Five minutes later Sammy Lee made his debut memorable when he crashed the ball into the net after Bryan Robson had transferred a Woodcock free-kick into his path. Lee and Gary Mabbutt were exceptional in midfield in place of injured Ray Wilkins and Glenn Hoddle in a hard-fought game played on a difficult rain-saturated surface.

No 347

Luxembourg, Wembley, 15.12.82. England won 9-0 (own goal1)

Clemence   Neal1     Sansom    Lee   Butcher  Martin  

Robson*    Mabbutt (Hoddle1)   Blissett3   Woodcock1  Coppell1 (Chamberlain1) 

Highlights: England struggled to find their rhythm in the goalless first twenty minutes of this European championship qualifier, but the floodgates opened with a Luxembourg own goal. A minute later Steve Coppell headed in a Bryan Robson cross and Tony Woodcock and Luther Blissett made it 4-0 by half-time. The first twenty minutes of the second-half were, as in the first-half, barren but then England stepped up the pace and Blissett completed his hat-trick and substitutes Mark Chamberlain and Glenn Hoddle found the net before, in the final seconds, Phil Neal netted the ninth goal to equal the haul when England � including Bobby Robson � beat Luxembourg in 1960. Blissett's opening goal of his hat-trick was the first scored by a black player in a full England international.

No 348

Wales, Wembley, 23.2.83. England won 2-1

Shilton*   Neal1 (Pen)  Statham  Lee  Martin  Butcher1        

Blissett   Mabbutt   Mariner      Cowans   Devonshire

Highlights: Phil Neal scored from the penalty spot in the seventy-eighth minute to end a bold victory bid by Wales on an ice-bound pitch. Ian Rush had given Wales a fourteenth minute lead, and was just a coat of paint away from making it 2-0 nine minutes later when his shot struck a post. Terry Butcher equalised six minutes before half-time following a quickly taken free-kick by Gordon Cowans who, along with Derek Statham, was making his debut. Neal slotted his penalty home just four days after missing a vital spot-kick for Liverpool in an FA Cup tie.

No 349

Greece, Wembley, 30.3.83. Drew 0-0

Shilton*   Neal   Sansom   Lee   Martin  Butcher          

Coppell   Mabbutt   Francis T.    Woodcock (Blissett)   Devonshire (Rix)

Highlights: England were frustrated by a Greek team that came only to defend in this European championship return match. Trevor Francis was the one England forward to play with any penetration, and he might have had a hat-trick before he was subdued by some spiteful tackles. The match was a sad milestone for Steve Coppell, whose international career ended after forty-two caps because of a serious knee injury. After-match quotes by Bobby Robson about Alan Devonshire were taken out of context, and he had to contact the West Ham player to tell him that he had not meant to make him the so-called 'scapegoat' for England's dismal performance.

No 350

Hungary, Wembley, 27.4.83. England won 2-0

Shilton*   Neal   Sansom   Lee  Martin  Butcher           

Mabbutt    Francis T.1   Withe1  Blissett   Cowans

Highlights: Goals in each half from Trevor Francis and Peter Withe sank a skilful Hungarian team and strengthened England's position at the top of their European championship qualifying group. Francis was always a handful for the Hungarian defence, and Withe topped a powerhouse performance with a cracking goal in the seventieth minute when he chested down a long pass from Sammy Lee and rifled in an unstoppable cross shot. Action man Withe had to go to hospital for treatment to a fractured cheekbone and a broken thumb. There was the rare sight of two goalkeeping captains tossing the coin at the pre-match ritual.

No 351

Northern Ireland, Belfast, 28.5.83. Drew 0-0

Shilton*   Neal   Sansom  Hoddle   Butcher  Roberts    

Mabbutt   Blissett (Barnes J.)  Withe  Cowans  Francis T.

Highlights: John Barnes, making his debut as a substitute for Luther Blissett, threatened to end the deadlock in the final seconds but goalkeeper Pat Jennings managed to block his close-range shot. Robson also introduced Graham Roberts to international football and he almost turned the ball into his own net in the twenty-eighth minute, Peter Shilton saving the day by diving across goal to punch the ball against a post. Glenn Hoddle had his first full game for Robson after a succession of injuries. Jimmy McIlroy and Martin O'Neill bossed the midfield for long periods, and England were fortunate to escape with a draw.

No 352

Scotland, Wembley, 1.6.83. England won 2-0

Shilton    Neal     Sansom   Lee    Roberts    Butcher    

Robson*1 (Mabbutt)   Francis T.  Withe (Blissett)   Hoddle   Cowans1

Highlights: Skipper Bryan Robson gave England the lead in the thirteenth minute with a carbon copy of the goal he scored in the opening seconds of the World Cup, forcing the ball into the net from close range after Terry Butcher headed on a Kenny Sansom throw. Robson limped off with a groin injury ten minutes later, but England continued to dominate in midfield and schemer Gordon Cowans turned scorer in the fifty-fourth minute to clinch victory and the British championship. Sammy Lee and Trevor Francis each had 'goals' disallowed. Goalkeeper Peter Shilton marked his fiftieth international appearance with a wonderful diving save that prevented Scotland's best player, Gordon Strachan, from pulling a goal back.

No 353

Australia, Sydney, 12.6.83. Drew 0-0

Shilton*  Thomas   Statham (Barnes J.)   Williams   Osman   Butcher 

Barham    Gregory   Blissett (Walsh)    Francis T.   Cowans

No 354

Australia, Brisbane, 15.6.83. England won 1-0

Shilton*   Neal    Statham (Williams)   Barham   Osman  Butcher          

Gregory   Francis T.    Walsh1  Cowans  Barnes J.

No 355

Australia, Melbourne, 19.6.83. Drew 1-1

Shilton* (Spink)   Neal (Thomas)   Pickering     Lee  Osman  Butcher  

Gregory   Francis T.1   Walsh (Blissett)   Cowans  Barnes J.

Highlights: Bobby Robson inherited this 'Down Under' tour, and went there reluctantly with what was virtually an England �B� team and it was a controversial issue that full caps were awarded. Australia missed the chance to turn the games into a soccer showpiece, and defended grimly and often brutally in all three matches. A crowd of 14,000 saw England struggle through a goalless first game in Sydney, and there were just 10,000 to watch Paul Walsh score the only game of the match three days late in Brisbane. A Phil Neal own goal cancelled out a Trevor Francis goal in the third match in front of 20,000 spectators in Melbourne in the final game of a tour that Robson described as 'of little value to anybody, and nothing like the sort of preparation we needed for the European championships.' Mark Barham, Steve Williams, Danny Thomas, John Gregory, Nick Pickering and Nigel Spink were, along with Walsh, the new full caps, and not one of them was still in the frame for England when the 1986 World Cup build-up started.

No 356

Denmark, Wembley, 21.9.83. England lost 1-0

Shilton   Neal    Sansom   Wilkins*  Osman   Butcher   

Francis T.   Lee (Blissett)  Mariner   Gregory  Barnes J. (Chamberlain)

Highlights: A first-half Allan Simonsen penalty decided this European championship qualifier on a soaking-wet pitch and gave Bobby Robson what he described as 'the blackest day of my career.' England disputed the penalty that was awarded when the ball bounced up and struck Phil Neal on the hand. The midfield trio of Sammy Lee, John Gregory and Ray Wilkins failed to function together, and England did not deserve to take a point from the Danes, who were always the more inventive and industrious team. The England players were jeered off and a section of the crowd turned on Robson as he made the long, lonely walk back to the dressing-room.  The tabloid press were unmerciful with their criticism and poured scorn on Robson, who said privately: 'Even the Prime Minister does not get the pressure and criticism of an England manager. Some of things written and said are completely out of order, but you just have to bite your tongue and take it.'

No 357

Hungary, Budapest, 12.10.83. England won 3-0

Shilton    Gregory   Sansom   Lee1  Martin   Butcher   

Robson*   Blissett (Withe)   Mariner1  Hoddle1   Mabbutt

Highlights: Bryan Robson and Glenn Hoddle were recalled to the midfield, and they were the tandem team that gave England a decided edge over the Hungarians.  Hoddle scored an early goal to settle England down, and made the third goal for Paul Mariner after Sammy Lee had made it 2-0 with a twenty-yard drive. The victory meant England were still just about breathing in the European championship.

No 358

Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 16.11.83. England won 4-0

Clemence   Duxbury     Sansom   Lee  Martin   Butcher1         

Robson*2   Hoddle      Mariner1  Woodcock (Barnes J.)  Devonshire

Highlights: Just before the kick-off England heard the news that Denmark had beaten Greece 2-0 to clinch the place in the European championship finals, so it was something of an anti-climax as they went into action against Luxembourg. Skipper Bryan Robson refused to allow chins to drop, and he was the main motivator as England cruised to a comfortable victory. Robson scored two of the goals, with Bobby Robson's former Ipswich faithfuls Terry Butcher and Paul Mariner netting a goal each. Manchester United right-back Mick Duxbury made his debut in an England defence that was rarely troubled by the shot-shy Luxembourg forwards.

No 359

France, Paris, 29.2.84. England lost 2-0

Shilton     Duxbury   Sansom     Lee (Barnes J.)  Roberts  Butcher        

Robson*  Stein (Woodcock)    Walsh   Hoddle  Williams

Highlights: Two second-half goals by Michel Platini gave France a victory that was earned in midfield where they were always a thought and a deed ahead of an experimental England side for whom Luton partners Brian Stein and Paul Walsh failed to find their club form. France went on to win the European championship in the summer, so there was no disgrace for the England team. The disgrace came off the pitch where hooligans among England's followers again ran riot. Hooliganism had become known as 'the English disease.' When manager at Ipswich, Bobby Robson had landed himself in trouble by saying that the way to deal with hooligans was 'to turn a flamethrower on them.' Asked what he thought of the hooligans who had poisoned the atmosphere in Paris, he shrugged and said: 'You know my feelings. I honestly do not know what the solution is, but I do know it needs to be sorted out before there is a terrible tragedy.' The Heysel Stadium disaster was just over a year away.

No 360

Northern Ireland, Wembley, 4.4.84. England won 1-0

Shilton  Anderson   Kennedy  Roberts   Butcher  Lee   

Wilkins   Robson*   Rix   Francis T.  Woodcock1

Highlights: A Tony Woodcock goal won the match for England at the start of a Home Championship series that was being abandoned after 102 years. Northern Ireland might easily have got at least a draw if the central strikers had made more of the many chances created for them by winger Ian Stewart. Alan Kennedy won the first of his two caps at left-back.

No 361

Wales, Wrexham, 2.5.84. England lost 1-0

Shilton     Duxbury    Kennedy  Lee  Martin (Fenwick) Wright  

Wilkins*   Gregory   Walsh   Woodcock   Armstrong (Blissett)

Highlights:  Two youngsters, Mark Wright and Mark Hughes, had mixed fortunes in their international debuts. Hughes outjumped Wright to head a superb winning goal for Wales. Terry Fenwick came on as substitute for Alvin Martin in the eightieth minute for the first of his twenty caps. The Sun reacted to the defeat by offering readers 'Robson Out/Clough In' lapel badges.  Robson commented: 'I am caught up in a tabloid circulation war, and they are saying and doing outrageous things just to sell newspapers off my back. All the football reporters I talk to tell me it is not they who are putting the boot in, but their editors. It is disgraceful.'

No 362

Scotland, Hampden Park, 26.5.84. Drew 1-1

Shilton   Duxbury   Sansom   Wilkins   Roberts  Fenwick 

Chamberlain   (Hunt)    Robson*   Woodcock1 (Lineker)  Blissett   Barnes J.

Highlights: Bobby Robson responded to all the criticism by reverting to the 4-2-4 system in which he had been a key man for England as a player a quarter of century earlier. For the midfield role he shared with Johnny Haynes, he called in Manchester United partners Bryan Robson and Ray Wilkins, and for his old-style wingers he selected Mark Chamberlain and John Barnes. Loose marking let McGhee in for an early goal that was cancelled out by a spectacular thirty-sixth minute equaliser from the edge of the box by Tony Woodcock. Peter Shilton kept England in the match with a series of marvelous saves, and the heavily abused manager could feel satisfied with his bold experiment at the final whistle. A young striker called Gary Lineker won his first cap when he substituted for injured Tony Woodcock in the seventy-third minute. Steve Hunt came on for Chamberlain to win the first of his two caps. It was fitting that this final match in the Home Championship between the auld enemy should finish all square. For the record, of the 102 England-Scotland Home Championship matches England won 40. Scotland 39 and 23 were drawn. England scored 185 goals to 166 by the Scots.

No 363

USSR, Wembley, 2.6.84. England lost 2-0

Shilton    Duxbury   Sansom  Wilkins Roberts   Fenwick           

Robson*   Chamberlain  Francis T. (Hateley)   Blissett  Barnes J. (Hunt)

Highlights: 'Robson out' chants echoed around Wembley after England had gone down to second-half goals from Russian substitutes Gotsanov and Protasov. The first goal could be traced to anerror by Mike Duxbury, who was an excellent club player who seemed jinxed the moment he pulled on an England shirt. It was a clumsy, uncoordinated performance by England, brightened only by the entrance on to the international stage of Portsmouth centre-forward Mark Hateley, who brought life to the England attack when he substituted for Trevor Francis. Steve Hunt also came on as a substitute for the second successive match to complete an England career that lasted just fifty minutes in total. Yet more huge headline criticism for Bobby Robson, who was being projected as the most hated man in the land by the warring tabloids. No manager in the history of the game had been subjected to such vitriolic criticism. At the height, or rather depth, of the campaign against him, Robson had to suffer the headlined nickname, 'Plonker.' Yet there was hardly a football reporter in the media circus who did not have a soft spot for the warm, likeable Geordie, who took the criticism on the chin and kept coming back smiling.

No 364

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, 10.6.84. England won 2-0

Shilton   Duxbury  Sansom  Wilkins  Watson  Fenwick 

Chamberlain   Robson*   Hateley1 Woodcock (Allen)  Barnes J.1

Highlights: John Barnes scored one of the all-time great England goals to inspire this remarkable victory over Brazil just a week after the team had been booed off at Wembley. Terry Fenwick and Mark Hateley combined to feed the ball out to Barnes on the left wing in the last minute of the first-half. He set off on a zig-zagging thirty-five-yard run, outsmarting four defenders on the way and then wrong-footing two outstanding players in Costa and Junior before virtually walking the ball into the net. It was  an incredible goal that had 'made-in-Brazil' written all over it, and it was such a confidence booster for England that they more than held their own in the second-half after Peter Shilton's brilliance had helped curb an attempted fight back by the Brazilians. It was Barnes who set up the second knock-out goal in the sixty-fifth minute when his cross to the far post was headed so powerfully by Mark Hateley that goalkeeper Roberto Costa could only help it across the line. Clive Allen came on for his debut in the seventy-sixth minute in place of the tiring Tony Woodcock, and with his first touch he almost set up a third goal for Bryan Robson, who sent the ball inches wide of a post. It was Brazil's first home defeat for more than a quarter of a century, and reward for Bobby Robson's courage in sticking to a 4-2-4 formation in the land where the system was born. Norwich centre-half Dave Watson won the first of his twelve caps in place of appendicitis-victim Graham Roberts. A delighted Bobby Robson said: 'You could live to be a hundred and not see a better goal that Barnsie scored. It was the sort of goal only Brazilians are supposed to score. Fantastic!'

No 365

Uruguay, Montevideo, 13.6.84. England lost 2-0

Shilton  Duxbury  Sansom  Wilkins  Watson  Fenwick   Robson*         

Chamberlain  Hateley   Allen (Woodcock)  Barnes J.

Highlights: Uruguay led from the eighth minute through an angrily disputed penalty after winger Acosta fell over Mark Hateley's outstretched leg. England made and missed half a dozen scoring chances before Cabrera wrapped it up with a cleverly created second half goal just as it looked as if England would take full command. A draw would have been a fairer reflection of the play. Clive Allen, who had been scoring buckets of goals for Tottenham, missed two sitters, and was replaced by Tony Woodcock after Uruguay had gone two goals clear.  'I was disappointed with the result but delighted with our performance,' said the beleaguered Bobby Robson. 'None of my players deserve criticism after this whole-hearted display.'

No 366

Chile, Santiago, 17.6.84. Drew 0-0

Shilton   Duxbury    Sansom  Wilkins  Watson  Fenwick           

Robson*   Chamberlain (Lee)    Hateley   Allen   Barnes J.

Highlights: Despite unleashing more than twenty shots at goal England could not find the back of the net in a totally one-sided game. Chilean goalkeeper Rojas made half a dozen unbelievable saves, and also enjoyed a charmed life when the ball hit him when he was stretched on the ground on four occasions. Clive Allen came off at the end of his second full international wondering how he had managed to miss at least a hat-trick of goals. Bryan Robson gave a magnificent captain's performance, and continually won the ball in midfield to set up England's avalanche of attacks. The game did not exactly capture the imagination of the Chilean public. There were just 3,876 spectators scattered around the vast National Stadium in Santiago.

No 367

East Germany, Wembley, 12.9.84. England won 1-0

Shilton    Duxbury  Sansom   Williams   Wright   Butcher  

Robson* 1  Wilkins   Mariner (Hateley)  Woodcock (Francis T.)  Barnes J.

Highlights: Bobby Robson made a double substitution in the second-half when he sent on Mark Hateley and Trevor Francis for Paul Mariner and Tony Woodcock, and within a minute England at last broke down the massed East German defence. The goal was an all-Manchester United affair, with Bryan Robson volleying in a cross from his clubmate Ray Wilkins. In a match that was a warm-up for the start of the 1986 World Cup qualifying campaign England had one scare when East German striker Streich, playing his hundredth international, smacked a twenty-five yard shot against a post. There was an attendance of just 23,951, and the tabloids blamed Bobby Robson!

No 368

Finland, Wembley, 17.10.84. England won 5-0

Shilton    Duxbury (Stevens)  Sansom1    Williams  Wright         Butcher

Robson*1 (Chamberlain)  Wilkins   Hateley2   Woodcock1   Barnes J.

Highlights: Mark Hateley excited the Wembley spectators with an exhibition of old-fashioned centre-forward play, powering his way through the Finnish defence for two goals in this opening 1986 World Cup qualifier. Bryan Robson and Tony Woodcock  were also on the mark, and in the closing moments Kenny Sansom made it 5-0 with his one and only goal in eighty-six international appearances. Gary Stevens made his debut as substitute for injured Mick Duxbury. The Wembley floodlights temporarily failed while the Finnish players were on the pitch for a pre-match warm-up, and they seemed to be in the dark for the rest of the evening. England might easily have reached double figures with more accurate finishing. Tony Hateley, Mark's father who knew a thing or three about centre-forward play, was a proud spectator.

No 369

Turkey, Istanbul, 14.11.84. England won 8-0

Shilton    Anderson1   Sansom  Williams (Stevens)  Wright        Butcher          

Robson*3  Wilkins  Withe   Woodcock2   (Francis T.)  Barnes J.2

Highlights: Bryan Robson became the first England captain since Vivian Woodward back in 1909 to score a hat-trick as Turkey were steam-rollered to defeat in this World Cup qualifier. John Barnes and Tony Woodcock collected two goals apiece, and Viv Anderson scored the first of his two goals for England.  It was England's most emphatic overseas victory since the 10-0 tanking of the United States in 1964. Even Bobby Robson escaped criticism.

No 370

Northern Ireland, Belfast, 27.2.85. England won 1-0

Shilton    Anderson   Sansom    Stevens   Martin   Butcher        

Steven  Wilkins*   Hateley1     Woodcock (Francis T.)  Barnes J.

Highlights: England took another step towards the 1986 World Cup finals with a narrow but well-merited victory churned out in the mud of Windsor Park. Mick Quinn headed against the English crossbar and Terry Butcher cleared off the goal-line from Norman Whiteside and Gerry Armstrong before Mark Hateley settled the issue with a second-half goal after Butcher had hammered a Pat Jennings clearance into his path. Trevor Steven won the first of his thirty caps.

No 371

Republic of Ireland, Wembley, 26.3.85. England won 2-1

Bailey   Anderson  Sansom  Steven1     Wright  Butcher           

Robson*  (Hoddle)   Wilkins  Hateley (Davenport) Lineker1  Waddle

Highlights: Gary Lineker scored the first of his international goals  and Trevor Steven got his name on the England scoresheet for the first time against a Republic of Ireland team that battled every inch of the way. Their reward for all their industry came in the closing stages when Liam Brady became the first player to score against England in nearly nine hours following an error by goalkeeper Gary Bailey in his debut match.  Chris Waddle and Peter Davenport were also introduced to international football for the first time.  This was England's fifth successive victory at Wembley and at long last the press were off Bobby Robson's back.

No 372

Romania, Bucharest, 1.5.85. Drew 0-0

Shilton    Anderson   Sansom  Steven  Wright   Butcher

Robson*  Wilkins  Mariner (Lineker)  Francis T.  Barnes J. (Waddle)

Highlights: England retained top place in their World Cup qualifying group with a  creditable draw that might easily have been a victory if Bryan Robson's header from a John Barnes free-kick had not hit a post and if Paul Mariner had steadied himself before missing the best chance of the match. Peter Shilton and Viv Anderson were outstanding in the hard-worked England defence. Kenny Sansom, winning his fiftieth cap, gave a polished performance that added to the legend he was building as one of England's greatest ever left-backs.

No 373

Finland, Helsinki, 22.5.85. Drew 1-1

Shilton  Anderson   Sansom     Steven (Waddle)  Fenwick  Butcher     

Robson*   Wilkins   Hateley1  Francis T.  Barnes J.     

Highlights: Finland shocked England with an early goal and might have gone 2-0 up but for Terry Butcher clearing the ball off the goal-line with Peter Shilton beaten. Mark Hateley equalised five minutes into the second-half, but England were unable to force a winner against a spirited Finnish team that hung on for a deserved World Cup point. England now needed just three points from their three home qualifying games to qualify for the 1986 World Cup finals, which had been switched from financially-strapped Colombia to Mexico.

No 374

Scotland, Hampden Park, 25.5.85. England lost 1-0

Shilton    Anderson  Sansom     Hoddle (Lineker)   Fenwick  Butcher   

Robson*   Wilkins    Hateley    Francis T.   Barnes J. (Waddle)

Highlights: Graeme Sounness got the better of Bryan Robson in the battle for midfield supremacy, and he inspired Scotland to their first victory over the auld enemy at Hampden since 1976. There were thirty-four goal attempts in all, twenty of them coming from England, but the only one that found its way into the net came from full-back Richard Gough in the sixty-eighth minute of this first contest for the Sir Stanley Rous Cup. It was England's first defeat in nine matches, but the Daily Mirror  ran a front-page headline that screamed 'Robson Must Go!' The vultures were back.

No 375

Italy, ciudad de México, 6.6.85. England lost 2-1

Shilton    Stevens   Sansom   Steven (Hoddle)  Wright  Butcher

Robson*    Wilkins   Hateley1   Francis T. (Lineker)  Waddle (Barnes J.)

Highlights: This opening match in the 'Little World Cup' tournament was staged in the wake of the Heysel Stadium tragedy in which 38 spectators died during rioting before the Liverpool-Juventus European Cup Final. Players from both sides showed tremendous character in what was a difficult game for everybody involved, and a 1-1 draw looked the likely satisfactory outcome until the Mexican referee amazed even the Italians by awarding them an eighty-eighth minute penalty from which Altobelli scored the winning goal. Peter Shilton was beaten by a shot that swerved in the thin air for Italy's first goal that was quickly cancelled out by Mark Hateley. In the last seconds England had an obvious penalty turned down when Gary Lineker was brought down when shaping to shoot.  Gary Stevens made his debut at right-back in a game that raised little excitement in ciudad de México. There were just 8,000 spectators dotted around the Azteca Stadium that would be the venue for the World Cup final a year later.

No 376

Mexico, ciudad de México, 9.6.85. England lost 1-0

Bailey   Anderson    Sansom   Hoddle (Dixon)  Fenwick           Watson          

Robson* Wilkins (Reid)  Hateley  Francis T.       Barnes J. (Waddle)

Highlights: Peter Reid and Kerry Dixon were sent on for their first caps as substitutes as England tired in the high altitude. Luis Flores had given Mexico the lead with a shot that went in off the post, and then England celebrated what they were convinced was an equaliser from Viv Anderson. But the referee awarded the Mexicans a free-kick after their goalkeeper had collapsed dramatically after Anderson's header had powered into the net. It was the first time since 1959 that an England team had lost three successive matches and the criticism of Bobby Robson reached a new crescendo.

No 377

West Germany, ciudad de México, 12.6.85. England won 3-0

Shilton   Stevens  Sansom   Hoddle  Wright  Butcher    

Robson*1   (Bracewell)  Reid  Dixon2   Lineker (Barnes J.)        Waddle

Highlights: The Germans made the mistake of not getting themselves properly acclimatised, and they were run to the edge of exhaustion in the second-half as England stepped up the pace. Kerry Dixon had an exceptional first full game in an England shirt, scoring twice in the second-half after laying on the first goal for Bryan Robson in the first-half. Four minutes before half-time Peter Shilton played a vital part in an outstanding team display when he saved a Brehme penalty. The Germans arrived in Mexico only two days before the match, and their players were huffing and puffing in less than an hour of running around in the rarified air.

No 378

USA, Los Angeles, 16.6.85. England won 5-0

Woods   Anderson  Sansom (Watson)  Hoddle (Steven1)  Fenwick   Butcher

Robson* (Reid)    Bracewell   Dixon2   Lineker2  Waddle (Barnes J.)

Highlights: Kerry Dixon and Gary Lineker scored two goals apiece against a gallant but outclassed United States team. Lineker's first goal was  memorable. He chested down a pass from Glenn Hoddle, swivelled round and volleyed an unstoppable right foot shot into the net. Glenn Hoddle had a penalty saved, and Trevor Steven scored the fifth and final goal after his Everton clubmate Paul Bracewell had acrobatically knocked the ball into his path.  Bracewell was getting his first full outing after playing as a substitute against West Germany, and Bobby Robson awarded a first cap to goalkeeper Chris Woods.

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CG