1974 World Cup – Part 5
The sights and sounds and back stories to the 1974 World Cup, written to coincide with my 40th year of being obsessed by the beautiful game and 10 years of writing the Blog.
The songs, the TV panels, the rain and the fall of the Dutch.
1974 World Cup – Part 5
The 1974 World Cup song introduced us to live disco!
Polish singer Maryla Rodowicz delighted us in 1974 with her Disco rendition of the World Cup anthem. Very Abba-esque and sung in three different languages.
Take a listen
The art of the football panel was only born 4 years before in Mexico, so by 1974 BBC and ITV were really getting into the swing of things.
Jimmy Hill had made the move over to the BBC from ITV and along with Grandstand legend Frank Bough hosted Auntie’s TV coverage from West Germany.
Sat on the swivel chairs in the studio were Joe Mercer, recently appointed as England caretaker manager after Sir Alf Ramsey was given the boot, Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy, QPR player Frank McLintock and ex Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton, who was now plying his trade at Preston North End.
Over at ITV, Brian Moore was in London controlling things with Brian Clough, who was on the verge of joining Leeds as manager, the now retired Jack Charlton, Man U’s assistant manager Paddy Crerand, Palace manager Malcolm Allison, Sunderland’s Bobby Moncur and Wolves legend Derek Dougan.
Television coverage of the 1974 World Cup was ground breaking with the debate getting pretty lively. Telephone phone-ins were also used for the first time.
ITV’s 1974 World Cup theme – ‘Lap of Honour’.
I couldn’t find a link to the BBC’s 1974 World Cup theme, which was a full sensory overload called ‘Striker’ and recorded by the Anthony King Orchestra.
The Scotland national team did release a number though called Easy, Easy, which despite every pre-pubescent Scotsman owning a copy, never did break into the Top of the Pops top 20!
The mood on television was a little muted after England’s unexpected exit from the tournament and a lot of talk was still of that disastrous night against the Poles.
Interestingly the only non-Englishmen amongst the star-panellists was Frank McLintock, who only won 9 caps for Scotland, but would I am sure enjoyed Scotland’s brave competition sat amongst a load of Englishmen.
Scotland set some kind of World Cup record as they were eliminated in the first round without losing a match, they were infact the only unbeaten team in the 1974 series! Prior to West Germany, the only other unbeaten tournament teams ended as World Champions.
The list of BBC and ITV commentators working from West Germany is legendary and remain voices that have stepped with me through my football loving life.
At the BBC David Coleman led proceedings, who sadly died last year, Barry Davies, Alan Weeks and Archie McPherson were also there as was, working at his first World Cup, John Motson. Motty is still going strong on BBC Radio Five and Jock Stein also co-commentated.
Over at ITV were the late Hugh Johns, Gerald Sinstadt, Gerry Harrison and Keith Macklin, who never did another World Cup. Sir Alf joined as a co-commentator.
The rain took centre stage across West Germany and unlike Mexico ’70, when the tournament was baked in sun, the 1974 World Cup was to be plagued by torrential rain. Many matches were played in terrible conditions, particularly the game between West Germany and Poland with a place in the Final at stake.
The pitch in Frankfurt was so waterlogged, the game was delayed and the city’s fire brigade was called in to soak up the water.
FIFA claimed the 2nd Round Group Stages a success, and used the same format for 1978 in Argentina and 1982 in Spain.
A story had been published the day before the final in the German tabloid Bild accusing some of the Dutch players of misbehaving in their hotel pool after the Semi-Final win over Brazil. It was later alleged the girls they were accused of frolicking with were paid for by the Bild, who were blamed with staging the whole event.
But the damage had been done. Midfielder Arie Haan (photo) admits the story had an impact on Dutch preparations for the final. “We changed a little bit the night before the final,” said Haan. “Before we did not think, but afterwards we knew what it was like to be famous, to be the best. It started with the articles, then came the pressure and the stress. The wives were on the phone wanting to know what happened.”
The tournament ended in disarray for a Netherlands team that for so long seemed certain to get their hands on the trophy. But their impact on a generation of football supporters, mesmerised and hypnotised by an extravagantly talented group of free spirits wearing those brilliant orange shirts, will never be forgotten.
As Cruyff once said in a sentence that defined the Dutch team of 1974: “It’s better to lose with your own vision than with someone else’s.”
The final part 6 to follow.