THE INDIAN TEAM AT THE 1948 OLYMPIC GAMES
Football had enjoyed a somewhat long-lived presence in India, having been introduced by the British military in the nineteenth century, with a strong early presence in the colonial capital, Calcutta. The three classic domestic competitions the Durand Cup, the Rovers Cup and the IFA Shield date from 1888, 1891 and 1893 respectively. The game was dominated by regimental teams before the First World War, although the first Indian team is believed to be Mohun Bagan (formed in 1891). A pivotal moment came in 1911 when Mohun Bagan defeated the East Yorkshire Regiment to win the IFA Shield.
Football in India was mostly organised on a regional basis, with different associations covering different geographical areas. The game essentially developed in garrison towns and in addition to Calcutta there was a strong presence in Bombay, Madras, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi amongst other cities. In 1937 the All India Football Federation was established to provide a single body to administer the game throughout the country.
The presence of substantial numbers of British troops in the Sub Continent during the Second World War helped boost the game and tours by British Forces teams towards the end of the hostilities provided a tremendous boost at all levels. Indian teams got a chance to test their skills against professional players from Britain and put up some credible performances, most notably in February 1945 when an Indian FA team drew and then narrowly lost to the professional tourists. Towards the end of 1945 an IFA team also conducted a national tour.
India was awarded independence in 1947, followed by a traumatic period of domestic upheaval following the partition with Pakistan but nevertheless, the game was in a relatively healthy state by 1948 when it was decided to enter a team at that year’s Olympic tournament in London. Following a series of trials, a 17-man squad was chosen, with a further three players selected in reserve. The players were drawn from just three areas in the country: Calcutta, Mysore/Bangalore and Bombay and the clubs set out to raise funds with a series of charity games arranged.
The initial squad of 17 comprised the following players:
Goalkeepers: Kenchappa Varadaiah Varadaraj (Bangalore Blues, Mysore), Sanjiva Uchil (Trades India SC, Bombay)
Full Backs: Sailendra Nath Manna (Mohun Bagan, Bengal), Taj Mohamed (Mohun Bagan, Bengal), Mathew Papen [also known as Thomas Varghese] (Tata SC, Bombay)
Half Backs: Talimeran Aao (Mohun Bagan, Bengal), Mahabir Prasad (Mohun Bagan, Bengal), Syed M Kaiser (Bengal), Anil Nandy (Eastern Railway SC, Bengal), Sattar Bashir (Mysore)
Forwards: Balasundra Nataraja Vajravelu (Mysore), Ramachandra Balaram Parab (Trades India SC, Bombay), Sahu Mewalal (Mohun Bagan, Bombay), Santosh Nandy (Eastern Railway SC, Bengal), Ahmed Khan (Mysore), Sarangapani Raman (Mysore), Kadirvelu Ponnwangam Dhanraj (Mysore)
Reserves: Robi Das (Bhawanipore, Bengal), Sunil Ghosh (East Bengal, Bengal), SM Dey
A total of 18 players made the journey, although only 17 travelled on the TSS Empire Brent, with Robi Das arriving separately. The passenger lists provide full names, occupations and ages for the squad. This information reveals that five of the squad were students, four worked in ‘service’ occupations, three for railway companies (two being described as ‘worker’ and one as ‘official’), two were merchants, one was in business, one was employed by the Police Department and one was a motor mechanic. As a group they mostly fell into categories where it would be possible to take extended leave to attend the tournament – thus students, those in public service and those playing for teams associated with large and prestigious companies dominated. This was essential as the squad underwent five weeks special training before their departure from India at the beginning of June and they were absent from the country for around four months before their return.
The squad played a fundraising warm-up fixture against a team drawn from Calcutta’s two great rivals East Bengal and Mohun Bagan shortly after the squad was announced and a further two games after assembling in Bombay for their departure. Despite delivering a 4-0 thrashing to Afghanistan, also en route for London, they were few expectations of the team and the Times of India (3 June 1948) rather gloomily recorded: “On this showing [the exhibition match against Trades India SC] not even the most ardent supporter of Indian football can hold out anything but a slender hope of India surviving the preliminary round of the International contest.”
Along with members of the country’s Olympic squads for other sports, the team left Bombay aboard the TSS Empire Brent on 4 June, arriving in Liverpool almost three weeks later. On arrival the squad was initially based at a camp in Richmond Park, later moving to their permanent accommodation for the games, Pinner County School.
The 1948 Olympic Games tournament was something of a haphazard affair. Five nations withdrew shortly before the tournament started, and the fixture schedule had to be rearranged. India had originally been drawn to play Burma, a game they almost certainly would have won, but their opponents, along with Hungary, Pakistan, Palestine and Poland, withdrew late on and when the draw was made for a second time, India was matched with France.
The first round tie with France was played at Ilford’s Newbury Park where the Indians put on a display well beyond expectations and came close to victory over their opponents. In fact had they been more accurate from the penalty spot they would have won, for two missed spot kicks cost them the game. Nevertheless, they proved to be the equal of their more experienced Western European opponents for much of the game and won over the spectators with their style of football.
Although eliminated the team had put up a good fight and the Official Report of the Games (p.384) noted:
Playing without boots, as did nine of the Indian team, gave them speed off the mark and lightness in their feet. This advantage they often threw away by hesitation in front of goal. Several had their feet bound in bandages to make up for lack of footwear, but not one shirked even the heaviest tackle.
Having been defeated the team’s involvement with the tournament was over. After a short break they made a visit to the Netherlands where they played three games, most successfully defeating Ajax 5-1. Then it was back to the UK, where they played a further five exhibition games including two against Wales Amateurs, representative sides from the Isthmian and Athenian Leagues and also Boldmere St Michael’s, one of the leading amateur teams. Then it was back to Liverpool for a 4 September departure for Bombay on the Circassia. By the time they had returned the players had missed virtually all the domestic season.
The Indian team played in a style favoured by many colonial sides of this period, using the centre half as the pivot of the team rather than as a third back, as was the established formation in professional English soccer.
Their centre-half, the burly T. Aao, was no policeman, he acted as distributor and lent a hand where needed most in defence. The full-backs covered the middle alternately and the wing halves took the wingers.
(Ilford Recorder, 26 August 1948)
The Wrexham Leader reporter ‘Wanderer’ was completely won over by the tourists, describing the first fixture with Wales Amateurs as ‘the game of a lifetime’.
Since League football was first introduced on Wrexham Racecourse, I have never seen a game of such quality and purity as that displayed in the first of the two amateur international games between Wales and India … Eight of the Indians were bootless, but that did not reduce the power of their kicking. Their accuracy was uncanny, their passing immaculate, and what an object lesson they provided in keeping the ball on the ground. Few teams will ever leave the Wrexham ground midst a greater ovation than those Indians received.
(Wrexham Leader, 27 August 1948)
When placing their Olympic performance in context, it should be noted that France met Great Britain in the next round, losing by a single goal. The Indians returned home no doubt wiser and with their first experience of an international tournament behind them, laying foundations for their success in the Asian Games just three years later when they defeated Iran 1-0 in the final.
A longer version of this article appeared in issue 29 of Soccer History magazine and is available as a download from http://www.soccer-history.co.uk.
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Fifty years ago today England won the World Cup for the first and only time in history. Hugh McIlvenny writing in the following day’s Observer quite correctly described it as “The greatest moment in the history of English football.” Unfortunately 1966 has also become English football’s greatest burden.
The 1966 tournament had been notorious for defensive football, negative tactics and, on occasions, ill temper, but fortunately the final proved to be an occasion of excitement and honest endeavour, even if there were few moments of exceptional skill. Unlike the matches that preceded it the final was a very open affair. The Sunday Telegraph’s match statistics show an incredible 95 goal attempts over the 120 minutes of play, 47 from England and 38 from West Germany. Apart from the six goals, 28 shots were saved, the remainder being blocked or off target, but there were only 18 corners (and only six to England).
England went one down on 12 minutes when Haller’s shot eluded goalkeeper Gordon Banks. Six minutes later Geoff Hurst equalised with a header and this remained the score at the break. Fifteen minutes from time it appeared that victory for the home team was assured when Martin Peters shot from the edge of the box. Then came heartbreak for England with just two minutes remaining. West Germany were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and although the initial effort cannoned off England’s wall, the ball eventually passed across the goalmouth where Wolfgang Weber slid home the equaliser.
In extra time England could have folded, but instead provided a powerful response. Ten minutes into the first period came one of the most controversial moments in World Cup history. Alan Ball’s cross was met by Geoff Hurst who powered in a shot that ricocheted off the underside of the bar, down and out into play. The referee did not initially award the goal but consulted his linesman who confirmed that the whole of the ball had crossed the line. Forever known to Germans as the “Wembley Tor” there has been much analysis ever since as to whether a goal should have been awarded or not. Whatever the case, the fact is, for right or wrong, the goal counted. Germany responded with a series of attacks on the England goal then in the very closing stages came Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick goal. A powerful left-foot shot from the edge of the box worthy of winning any match. The goal enabled BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme to enter the collective folklore as an abiding memory of England’s triumph with his comments: “Some people are on the pitch! They think it’s all over! … It is now, it’s four!”
England’s success was built on meticulous planning and hard work. Manager Alf Ramsey worked at his task as a club manager might, taking the players on tour to Scandinavia shortly before the tournament to help focus them on the task. David Miller in the Sunday Telegraph wrote “One cannot but say that England are not a great team, probably not the best team in the world … what matters is that they were the best here in England this July.” According to Soccer Star, the popular weekly magazine, England were “Artisans” whose victory was down to “determination, enthusiasm and sheer guts.”
Most importantly there were no obvious weaknesses in the team. Three of the players, Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton, were world class performers, as good as any in their position anywhere in the world. The other eight men offered the components any team requires for success: hard work (Ball, Stiles, Hurst and Hunt), honest endeavour (Cohen, Wilson, Jack Charlton) and silky skills (Martin Peters).
While West Germany recovered relatively quickly from what must have been a huge disappointment, the England team has never really moved on from that 1966 success. West Germany (Germany) won the tournament in 1974, 1990 and 2014 to add to three European titles (1972, 1980 and 1996). England has never progressed beyond the semi-final stage of any major tournament in the last 50 years.
This is remarkably at odds with the success of the Premier League, but perhaps also a reflection of this. Money and power in English football are held with the clubs, not with the FA or the national team. The impression often given (whether accurate or not) is that many players see playing for England as a side show to the main event, success at club level. It is often forgotten that the success of 1966 was not built on exceptional talent throughout the team, it was achieved by a team of 11 men with complementary talents who worked together for a common objective with honest endeavour, believe their manager and a will to work for him, plus some talent as well. If England are to achieve success in the future they need to return to these basic principles.
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The World Cup semi-final between West Germany and USSR took place 50 years ago today at Goodison Park. The match itself was a dour affair, typical of those that had preceded it, but the main controversy was off the field.
When the draw for the tournament was made in January 1966 the two semi-final venues were announced as Goodison Park and Wembley Stadium. The schedule of fixtures produced in FA News for July 1966 confirms where the games would take place. Goodison would host the first semi-final between the winners of quarter-final 1 (winners of Group 1 vs. second of Group 2) and quarter-final 3 ((winners of Group 3 vs. second of Group 4), while Wembley would host the second semi-final.
Many fans who had purchased packages of tickets in advance of the tournament correctly predicted that England were likely to win Group 1, and therefore, assuming they were successful in the quarter-final, they would play their semi-final at Goodison. However, fresh from creating controversy in Latin America with their choice of referees for the quarter-final ties, FIFA added further fuel to claims that the tournament was ‘fixed’ in England’s favour by switching the ties at short notice. After the quarter-finals it was announced that USSR and West Germany would play at Goodison with the England vs. Portugal fixture taking place at Wembley Stadium. The Guardian (26 July 1966) noted that “The official answer [for the decision] is that FIFA felt there was a better chance of a good gate there [Wembley] than at Goodison Park, which may or may not be true.”
According to the Liverpool Daily Post, Merseysiders called the decision “the greatest betrayal in sporting history.” David Bull, writing in the forthcoming issue of Soccer History Magazine expresses the views of many who had bought tickets expecting to see England play: “Come to think of it, ‘fickle’ is surely too feeble a description. Try ‘outrageous’ or – let’s get real – breach of contract.” He continues, “Still disgusted, 50 years on, I wish I’d been among the fans who held up a banner protesting at this callous breach. They weren’t just asked to take down their banner; they were marched down the tunnel by the stewards … we have ways of making you walk.”
In fact there were two banners as is made clear from the Guardian report of the match. From the photographs it appears that a group of four young men unfurled a banner stating “England Fix Insu£ts ‘Pool’” (the £ sign replacing the letter ‘l’ confirming the belief this was about money). When they attempted to carry the banner around the perimeter of the pitch they were removed from the ground. A second banner, “Down with FIFA, England for the Cup”, appears to have been displayed more discretely and was immediately taken down after the first group were ejected.
Disappointment on Merseyside was such that the match attracted the smallest gate of the five World Cup matches held at Goodison: just 38,273 attended. In comparison, the Portugal vs. Brazil group fixture was attended by 58,479 fans.
The match itself was extremely uninspiring. The Times called it “a battle of dreadnought and heavy armour.” The newspaper created controversy by harking back to World War Two in its report (the 1966 tournament took place just 21 years after the war ended) referring to the USSR team showing “something of the Stalingrad spirit.”
The Soviet team were hampered by an early injury to Sabo who played on although not fully fit. Haller gave Germany the lead on 43 minutes and almost immediately afterwards Chislenko, the USSR forward, was sent off. The second half continued in similar manner, the Germans roared on by 15,000 supporters with the locals showing their support for USSR. It was all over when Franz Beckenbauer netted from 25 yards to give West Germany a 2-0 lead and although Prokujan scored a late consolation goal the Germans were into the final, The closing stages were marked by chants of “England, England, England” from the locals.
So West Germany progressed to the final for the second time, having won the tournament in 1954, with their opponents to be decided at Wembley the following evening.
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Fifty years ago today one of the most remarkable of all World Cup upsets took place when 1,000:1 outsiders North Korea (or to be accurate, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), defeated Italy, twice previous winners of the trophy by a single-goal margin at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park.
Korea, both North and South, still lived in the shadow of the Korean War which had ended with the armistice of 1953. Technically the two were still at war and the United Kingdom, an ally of South Korea, was also at war with the North. North Korea, it should be noted was somewhat different to how it is today. The country had recovered well from the Korean War supported at times by both the USSR and China and in fact economic growth in the 1960s was much greater than in South Korea.
Their presence in the tournament meant some minor alterations to procedures arising from the fact that the British Government did not recognise the North Korean state. A set of stamps from the Royal Mail that depicted the flags of all 16 participants was cancelled and it was agreed that national anthems would only be played before the opening fixture and the final, all but guaranteeing that the North Korean anthem would not be heard.
The team was a mystery to the English press and fans but were far from being the complete outsiders that was expected. Although their qualification was overshadowed by a withdrawal of all the African nations from the competition, it was achieved in style. A three-team tournament in Japan, also involving Australia and South Korea, became a two-legged play off with Australia in Phnom Penh. Both matches attracted huge attendances of more than 50,000. The first tie was fairly even after 45 minutes with the Koreans 1-0 up, but in the second half they scored almost at will, finishing up 6-1 winners. The second leg was very much a formality as they took the aggregate score to 9-2.
Having qualified, North Korea found themselves in the north-east group alongside Chile, Italy and the USSR. Despite the region’s reputation as being a hotbed of soccer, the group was the most disappointing of the four which comprised the opening round of the tournament. According to The Guardian’s Word Cup Diary (16 July 1966), “It was taken for granted that the Scots would qualify and bring thousands of supporters South.” Instead the organisers were faced with Italy and three of the nations with the smallest fan bases at the tournament: Chile, the Koreans and the USSR. Furthermore, the original choice of venues (Newcastle and Sunderland) had to be changed at relatively short notice due to problems with the lease of St James’ Park. Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park was the replacement, rather unfortunately coinciding with Boro’s worst-ever season which had ended with relegation to Division Three for the first time in their history.
North Korea, everybody’s ‘mystery’ team would play all three of their group games at Ayresome Park. The mystery was revealed in their first match, against the USSR when they were overwhelmed physically and lost 3-0. According to David Lacey in The Guardian they were “a side of moderate ability, fit and fast.” Alec Cameron in the Daily Mail also noted the team was “superbly fit” but The Times offered little more than patronising comments. The Koreans were “these little men from the land of the Morning Calm,” and, “these little orientals.” Despite their defeat, the Middlesbrough crowd supported the Koreans, showing their appreciation for the underdog.
By the time of the second group game against Chile North Korea had won over the Ayresome Park faithful who adopted them as their own. Despite trailing to a first-half penalty, the Koreans more than held their own and a goal from Pak Seung Zin three minutes from time gave them an equaliser. The attendance was just 13,392 and the only 150 of the 4,000 seats installed in the “Bob End” were occupied.
And so to the final group game, against Italy, which took place on Tuesday 19 July. The Italians, confident of victory, rested several players but included Bulgarelli, who had been injured in the opening game with Chile. The match hinged around two incidents in the closing stages of the first half. On 35 minutes Bulgarelli was injured again and had to leave the field; there being no substitutes Italy continued with 10 men. Then seven minutes later Pak Doo Ik shot home from 15 yards to score what proved to be the only goal of the game. The Italians huffed and puffed in the second half but were fortunate not to concede more goals. Roared on by the home fans who chanted, “KO-RE-A! KO-RE-A! incessantly, the Koreans scraped home for the biggest World Cup upset since 1950, when the United States had defeated England 1-0 in Brazil. The Times, now less patronising noted “We came expecting the inevitable. We left having witnessed the impossible.” For the Daily Mail, “The Koreans were a team while the Italians looked like stragglers.” The Guardian noted at the final whistle, “One would have thought that Middlesbrough had won the FA Cup.”
North Korea had to wait 24 hours to confirm their place in the quarter-finals, but USSR duly despatched Chile to confirm that they would now meet Portugal at Goodison in the last eight of the competition. There was more drama at Goodison when the Koreans raced to an amazing three goal lead, but Portugal hit back, scoring two before half time and adding a further three after the break to win 5-3. Thus ended the fairy tale of North Korea.
The North Koreans were ‘The People’s Team’ of the 1966 tournament because they played football as it should be played, with attack first and foremost on their minds. The players may have been small in stature but the squad was tremendously fit and well prepared, and their complete enthusiasm for the game won over the fans at Ayresome Park, and then nationally following their quarter-final performance at Goodison. In many ways the tournament as a whole was a depressing one, dominated by defensive play and cynical tactics. It was so grim that Eric Batty, writing in Soccer Star, announced “We have entered the era of anti-football.” North Korea proved to be one of the few teams who came with a positive attitude to play football and entertain, and thoroughly deserved their moment of glory.
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It is hardly a surprise to find out that Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps club owe something to Lincoln City in its origins. The two not only share similar names (City’s nickname of course being the Red Imps) but also the Gibraltar club’s badge includes an imp similar in design to that used by City in the 1970s.
Lincoln Red Imps was formed in 1976 mostly drawing its players from the Blue Batons, a police youth team. Lincoln City may be currently languishing in the National League following relegation from the Football League in 2011, but 1975-76 was arguably the club’s best-ever season. Led by future England manager Graham Taylor, the Imps won the Division Four title in style creating what was then a new record points total of 74 (in those days two points were awarded for a win) and reaching the fourth round of the FA Cup, their best performance in the competition for over 50 years.
In August 1975, just before that season started there had been a boardroom shuffle at Sincil Bank, with Reg Brealey becoming one of six new men on the board and he was soon promoted to become vice-chairman.
Following their success the Imps were invited to take part in a four-team tournament in Gibraltar in May 1976 along with Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, a rare venture by the club into Europe. Graham Taylor’s team performed with credit, drawing with both Sheffield United and Blackburn and losing both games in penalty shoot-outs.
Ties between the Imps and Gibraltar were further cemented when City vice-chairman Brealey inspired a friend and business contact, Charlie Poulson, to establish the Lincoln Red Imps club. The agreement was that Brealey would offer the club a sponsorship deal as long as they named themselves after Lincoln, although they were not to use the name Lincoln City. So Lincoln Red Imps was born.
Some 40 years later it is Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps who are probably the better known club. Apart from spells under manager Colin Murphy in the 1980s the Sincil Bank club have come nowhere near equalling their exploits of 1975-76. In contrast Lincoln Red Imps have gone from strength to strength, winning the domestic title annually in recent seasons and featuring in the qualifying rounds for the Champions League. Yesterday evening they achieved the astonishing feat of defeating Celtic, the first British club to win the European Cup, 1-0 in the first leg of their second qualifying round tie.
… As for Reg Brealey, he remained on the Imps’ board until December 1977. In June 1980 he became a director of Sheffield United where he went on to serve as chairman from May 1981 until resigning in December 1990. He returned to Bramall Lane as chairman again in June 1993 remaining in that post until September 1995 and as a director until December 1995.
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Fifty years ago today, on Monday 11 July, the 1966 World Cup finals began. The opening fixture saw England, as hosts, take on Uruguay in their Group One fixture.
The British press, while generally supportive of England’s campaign, did not expect to win the trophy. The Times, for example, on the morning of the match predicted that the four semi-finalists would be England, West Germany, Brazil and Italy (in fact the four seeded teams), with Italy defeating Brazil in the final. The Daily Mail, too, reflected this mixture of hope and reality with Brian James playing the role of ‘the hopeful supporter’ and JL Manning ‘the realist’.
The match was televised in full by both main channels, BBC 1 and ITV, although viewers of STV in Scotland had to wait until 8.55 for live coverage. BBC1 carried an episode of their football-related soap opera United! from 6.30 then switched to Wembley for 6.50 in plenty of time for the opening ceremony, which began at 7.00. ITV chose to run with Coronation Street, switching to the football at 7.25, five minutes before kick-off.
The 90 minutes of play produced very little excitement for the fans and there were few goalmouth incidents of note as the match finished without a hint of a goal. The Uruguayans played a deep defensive game which frustrated an England team that dominated the play but created little. The match statistics tell the story: England won 16 corners and conceded just one; they had 15 goal attempts, but 13 were from outside the penalty box and the Uruguayan ‘keeper was required to make just four saves. The Daily Mail headline summed it up: “Angry, baffled, goal-less England,” while The Times was equally disappointed: “England frustrated by contracting defence, Negative pattern set for days ahead.” The Times even suggested that “the man on the terrace” would have found the game “soporific and boring”.
The ‘official’ attendances for matches appear to show the number of tickets sold. However, as most tickets were bought in packs for multiple fixtures it was often the case that many fans stayed away from the early games, hence the difference between the actual and official attendances. Another interesting feature was that one of the linesmen was Tofik Bakhramov of the USSR, who of course went on to play a significant role in the final. Finally, this was the first occasion when ‘doping’ tests were introduced at a major football tournament, with the first England players to be tested being Bobby Moore and Jack Charlton. There were no positive tests from any player during the tournament.
England 0, Uruguay 0
Wembley Stadium, London
Attendance: 87,148 (actual around 75,000)
England: G Banks; G Cohen, R Wilson; N Stiles, J Charlton, R Moore; A Ball, J Greaves, R Charlton, R Hunt, J Connelly
Uruguay: L Mazurkiewicz; H Troche, J Manicera, L Ubina, N Goncalves, O Caetano, J Cortes, M Viera, H Silva, P Rocha, D Perez
To find out more about Soccer History Magazine visit our website http://www.soccer-history.co.uk
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Please note that our website http://www.soccer-history.co.uk will go offline for a few days during the next week or so. It will return with a brand new design and many more exciting features.
Issue 34 is currently back from the printer and will be posted in the next few days.
Further news will be posted here and on our Twitter account, @soccerarchive.
Editor, Soccer History Magazine
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