England 1-2 Scotland: 50 years since Wembley win

IT WAS all over and Lions rampant reared appropriately from Wembley’s steep slopes; earthy Scottish cheers threatened to tilt the glass-fibre bonnet that the stadium now wears.

Monday 8 April, 1963

England 1 Scotland 2

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The Scotland team had pranced in victory elation, and now they hesitated, not sure whether to race for the bus or parade a Scottish standard they had somehow got hold of. It was the first time they had not moved in happy unison.

Bewhiskied Scots weaved on to the field and kicked their tartan bonnets into the goals and planted standards on the greatest turf in Britain, and impatient policemen chased them. This was victory fun.

The Scots on the terracing hung on, chanting “Caldow, Caldow, Caldow,” for hadn’t he promised them a lap of honour when Scotland won. In their ecstasy they did not realise that the poor fellow was in a hospital having a plaster put on a fractured left leg. That was a sad moment.

And then we spilled out of the stadium and in the dusty car park the mood changed. We remembered how Joe Mercer used to shatter us with wing half magic, and now instead of him England had those blond heaps of uninspired muscle – Moore and Flowers. We remembered how Lawton and Mannion and Matthews and the others in white shirts used to ride majestically over us, and now there were three white mice in their place. Surely it was ridiculous to so boisterously celebrate beating this lot.

And then there was the West End at night and the victory orgy, and we remembered that the boys had waited since 1951 for that and they were entitled to their fling and that any victory was better then no victory. Academic analysis was out of place.

We would concede that the unfortunate tackle in the fifth minute which sent Scotland’s captain to hospital and Smith, England’s battering ram, to hobble on the left wing, shattered the pattern of play and put it beyond serious analysis.

We would want to forget that although Scotland were so superior, they won by only a single goal, and that Greaves missed three chances that normally he would take with his eyes shut. England came as near as that to burgling a win.

That though fans the flames of annoyance at a forward line that had no spearhead; a St John who never looked like having a shot at goal, far less scoring. It rouses concern at the slip in form of Law and White. Both have lost, meantime, their sharpness and accuracy.

The attacking excellence of Baxter saved their faces. He was the creative artist England used to have in abundance, but have not now. His two goals were so well taken. The drive of Mackay backed him, but his wanderings could have been expensive had England had five fit forwards.

The only cheer in the forward line was the return to form of Henderson. He was opposed to a ridiculously ordinary back, Byrne, and was not always accurate in finishing and passing, but he was very lively and adventurous, and no Englishman was so uninhibited.

We enjoyed hearing an argument about whether this Scotland v England were thoroughbreds against carthorses, or aristocrats against peasants, and suggested it was maybe humans against automatons. When Caldow was injured Wilson moved smoothly from outside left to left back, and was soon the best defender on the field. One could not imagine any England player having the natural ability to make such a switch so successfully.

Neither did England have the football cunning of the natural player. Wilson, who is always at his best when given an unusual job to do, wondered later why England continued to play Smith, who was injured, against him on the right wing, instead of switching Charlton to face him and try to exploit his inexperience as a back.

Such departure from pattern would never occur to them, but it might be said in tribute to Wilson that when Douglas played against him, before Smith returned, he was under complete control, even although Douglas was England’s best forward.

The Dundee pair, Hamilton and Ure, had the usual efficient, skilful game that is expected from them, and it was they who, in the later stage, set up the passing around game which caused so much controversy. They explained it later by simple arithmetic, showing that as England had eleven men against their ten they had to keep possession of the ball, or England would be coming at them with an extra man.

Right or wrong, there was at least a thought behind the play, and one could not say that about what the opposition was up to.

There is but one thought to keep in mind about this Scotland team – a serious one. As footballers they are a class above England, and now approaching that of world greats. Yet at Hampden last year they toyed with England and could score only two goals, and one was a penalty kick. Now again they have been vastly superior and have won by just a single goal. When the flush of victory has cooled, grave consideration must be given to this.

England: Banks, Armfield, Byrne, Moore, Norman, Flowers, Douglas, Greaves, Smith, Melia, Charlton.

Scotland: Brown, Hamilton, Caldow, Mackay, Ure, Baxter, Henderson, White, St John, Law, Wilson.

Referee: L S Horn (Netherlands).

Attendance: 98,606