1990, Milla’s Tale and Gazza’s tears: World Cup memories (7)

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Great World Cup, shame about the football. Those slightly contradictory statements sum up Pete Sixsmith‘s verdict on Italia 90. Other thoughts from 20 years ago – England Swings, or whoever wrote it should; a booked, weeping Paul Gascoigne and skybound England penalties. Pete’s priceless series marches on and we still have the United States, France, Japan/South Korea and Germany to visit …

This was the one!! Quite simply, Italia 90 was the best World Cup I can remember, even though some of the football was dismal. It had everything: fantastic stadiums, great drama, wonderful characters, and that sense of occasion that only Italians can bring to Calcio.

Read more1990, Milla’s Tale and Gazza’s tears: World Cup memories (7)

1986 and handing it to Maradona: World Cup memories (6)

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Pete Sixsmith dips into his rich memory bank once again and finds himself back in Mexico, for the 1986 World Cup. Read on to discover how one legacy of the tournament had Mr Sixsmith, as teacher turned goalkeeper, picking a World Cup ball out of the net four times …

Twenty years on from the triumph at Wembley, England set off for Mexico thinking that they had a half decent chance. Bryan Robson’s shoulder and Diego Armando Maradona’s hand put an end to that.

Read more1986 and handing it to Maradona: World Cup memories (6)

1982 and a clogger called Gentile: World Cup memories (5)

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Pete Sixsmith gets to within three decades of the 2010 starting post, with thoughts on takeaway chickens, Bryan Robson getting England off to a great start they couldn’t quite sustain, a Kevin Keegan missed sitter, armies of bluebottles – and the dirtiest player he’s ever seeen …

Held in Sunny Spain with 24 participants which included England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the latter for the first time since 1958. And we almost had a Sunderland player to cheer on as Jimmy Nichol was in the Northern Ireland squad and he had just left Roker Park after a loan spell. Come on ‘yer man!!

Read more1982 and a clogger called Gentile: World Cup memories (5)

Club versus country: time to choose?

sol1Club versus country. Who wins for you and why? That’s the question – the other question, if Mr Eduardo and his sensitive supporters will permit one last mention – that Salut! Sunderland poses each week during the season to the opposing fan or fans doing the Who Are They? feature.
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I have not analysed the replies in any detail – though it might be a good idea to do so – but can say that the responses overwhelmingly put club first.


* With thanks to Elliott Brown (St George flag, above the old Windsor railway station) and “Mrs Logic” (Stadium of Light gates) for the photos

Read moreClub versus country: time to choose?

1974, Cruyff and Tito: World Cup memories (3)

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Pete Sixsmith‘s World Cup reminiscences reach 1974. It was a year the Scots made it to the finals and England didn’t, Johan Cruyff should have ended up in the winning side and didn’t and Marshal Tito would have made Pete’s day by turning out on the left wing for Yugoslavia, but also didn’t …

This was the first tournament where they played for the “new” World Cup, Brazil having won the right to keep the old one in in perpetuity (which translated as 13 years, the time it took for someone to steal it).

It was staged in the Federal Republic of Germany (West) and it came at the end of my teaching career at Broom Cottages Secondary Modern School as it was subsumed into Ferryhill Comprehensive School.

England didn’t make it to the finals, having been knocked out by a splendid Polish team. How these names roll of the tongue: Gregor Lato, Jerzy Gorgon, Kazimiersk Deyna, Robert Gadocha, Zbigniew Gut and Jan Tomaszewski.
They really were a good side and had had little trouble dumping a poor England team out of the qualifiers, sending Sir H’Alf to spend more time with his family.

Read more1974, Cruyff and Tito: World Cup memories (3)

Darren Bent: no more than we expected

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The FA, in traditionally clueless fashion, mucked up the announcement of Fabio Capello’s final squad, allowing names of players supposedly omitted or included to be leaked all over the shop while, for whatever reason, dithering over an official statement. At 3pm BST, they finally got round to saying there’d be an announcement in an hour. Why couldn’t they have made this clear earlier, or explained why they couldn’t make it clear? Are they really as hard of thinking as they seem determined to appear? And so it was in the end confirmed, and to no great surprise among Sunderland fans, that Capello had found no room for Darren Bent in the 23-strong squad heading for South Africa. Darren – the great image is from Addick-TedKevin‘s Flickr pages – has learnt a sharp lesson from the Book of Certainties: to be both a Sunderland player, and chosen for England, is one of football’s tallest orders …

When Kevin Keegan picked Kevin Phillips, then the best striker in the Premier League and not even playing in a top six team, to go to Holland and Belgium for Euro 2000, some of us looked forward to seeing how our star would fare at international level.

He was never given the chance.

Read moreDarren Bent: no more than we expected

1970 and Pele: World Cup memories (2)

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For his second look back on the past 11 World Cups, Pete Sixsmith recalls the one that gave him most pleasure, offers a one-word explanation of his withdrawal of support from England and reflects on the greatness of Pele

The 1970 tournament is seen by many, including me, as the finest of all. It was the first one where colour TV was the rule rather than the exception, it had some brilliant football, capped by the greatest ever goal in a World Cup Final by a Brazilian full back after a pass by Pele – and it marked the end of my support for England.

Read more1970 and Pele: World Cup memories (2)

1966 and all that: World Cup memories (1)

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Pete Sixsmith packs his authoritative knowledge of football with a great recall of detail of the sort that used to earn old Leslie Welch a decent living as the Memory Man. Let’s start Pete’s series of recollections from the past 11 World Cups in the obvious place …

This is the first tournament that I can really remember. 1958 in Sweden didn’t have much impact on a seven-year-old wrapped up in the world of Lewis Jones and Jeff Stephenson at Leeds RLFC, while 1962 in Chile was a long way away and the TV pictures had to be flown over to appear a day late.

I have vague memories of the Battle of Santiago ( Italy and Chile kicked lumps out of each other, while the English referee Ken Aston looked on in amazement) and I do remember the stanchions on the goalposts in Santiago being curved rather than straight. And I wanted Czechoslovakia to win as I was a fledgling Communist.

Read more1966 and all that: World Cup memories (1)

Soapbox on England: book a holiday now Darren

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Did anyone in the England camp actually want Darren Bent to go to South Africa? Do Rooney and Lampard have as much say as Fabio? Did Darren miss a sitter or just a half chance in a token appearance in which it was pre-ordained that he’d barely see the ball? Pete Sixsmith wonders …

I watched the first half of the England game today. I was hoping to see a sparkling performance from Darren which would ensure that he would be joining Lampard, Gerard, Cole and Terry on that flight to South Africa.

Read moreSoapbox on England: book a holiday now Darren

England, my England

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Luke Harvey, our budding sports journalist, offers some thoughts on the England World Cup warm-up and says Darren Bent’s fate, though important, won’t affect his summer viewing plans …

England’s first warm-up match in the approach to the 2010 World Cup, a 3-1 victory over Mexican opponents, seemed on paper a solid and comfortable win. In reality it was anything but.

On display for 90 minutes were two teams incapable of defending set pieces, and England looked nervous and edgy as they lined up in a curious formation without any of the FA Cup finalists in the team, some fresh faces appearing, and crucially for Sunderland fans – no Darren Bent.

Read moreEngland, my England