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1974 World Cup Final – Part 6

The 6th and final part of my 1974 World Cup series which I hoped stirred some old  memories or told some new stories, but most of all wet the whistle for the festival of football that is about to begin this Thursday at the famous Estadio do Maracana in Rio. Thanks for taking to time to read the posts, which helped celebrate 10 years of this Blog and my 40 years as a football fan.

1974 World Cup – Part 6

On the afternoon of Sunday, July 7th 1974 the excitement was palpable in my house as Englishman Jack Taylor blew his whistle to begin the World Cup Final between hosts West Germany and outside of Westdeutschland, everybody else’s favourite team, The Netherlands.

If you were out making a cup of tea or putting the ironing board away like my Mum was, then you were to miss the most dramatic first minute to any World Cup Final, this despite a delay to the start as ballboys put the forgotten corner flags into the ground!

The Dutch kicked off and after 25 or so passes Johan Cruyff picked the ball up just inside the centre circle and with the millions at home salivating set off on a run taking him past Berti Vogts and menacingly into the West German penalty area where Uli Hoeness blatently tripped him.

jack-taylor_2290560b53 seconds on the clock and the first West German player to touch the ball was Sepp Maier as he picked it out of the net after Johan Neeskens sent him the wrong way from the spot. I was so wanting the Dutch to win, who I had fallen head over heels with during the previous month, that I was estatic, unknowing yet to how cruel football can be.

Vogts, angry, proceeded to chase Cruyff around the pitch and fouled him twice in quick succession after the penalty and was booked. For the next 20 minutes the Dutch just played with their hosts, like a cat pawing an injured bird.

Then in the moment that changed game the West Germans counter-attacked after sustaining more Dutch pressure and Bernd Holzenbein went down in the box after a tackle by Wim Jansen. It was clearly not a foul and today replays still show that the West German took a tumble, proving that play acting is not a modern phenomena. Paul Breitner dispatched the penalty and we were level.

This shocked the Dutch out of toying with the opposition mode, but it was a little late as the 75,200 crowd in Munich raised the noise levels and the hosts grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. On 43 minutes the West Germans took the lead.

WC74_61SBonhof skipped away from a defender on the right wing and put in a hopeful cross, which caused a bit of a melee, but in the centre of it all was the lethal Gerd Müller, who in a masterclass of poaching (only to be repeated by one Clive Mendonca) swivelled and put the ball past the Dutch keeper Jongbloed. In typical fashion Müller turned away and jumped like a grasshopper to celebrate.

As the players walked off at the break, the cameras showed Cruyff arguing with referee Jack Taylor, clearly riled by the award of the penalty against Jansen, although mostly forgotten Taylor was to make another mistake later, or as the Germans will point out, probably two.

In the 2nd half, the Dutch laid siege to the West German goal, a bit like the Nazi’s did to them in 1940. Maier was in tip top form and Breitner headed one off the line as the hosts backpeddled. However on the hour mark Müller brought down a looping right-wing cross, moved clear of the a couple of defenders and hammered the ball home. It was disallowed, in retrosepect incorrectly, for offside or maybe handball, but the replays showed neither.

WC74_62SThe Dutch drove forward intricately passing the ball into dangerous areas but then seeing either Meier save or the ball crawling inches wide. Late on with the Dutch hearts sinking and mine at home, Holzenbein should’ve had another penalty, tripped again by Jansen, Taylor waved away the hosts shouts, but that was to be it as Helmet Schön’s West Germany beat the Rinus Michels Netherlands 2-1.

The West Germans may have their names as 1974 World Cup winners in the record books but the treasured title of people’s champions will always go to The Netherlands, and my memories of that month of football are treasured, not even dimmed by my Dad finally agreeing to take me to a live football match just a couple of months later…. at The Valley!

Johan Cryuff was never again to appear in a World Cup Finals, and Holland are still yet to have their name written as winners on the famous trophy, twice more falling in the Final. Mind you although it still saddens me that the Dutch failed to win in 1974, it would have been unjust for legends like Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Sepp Maier and Paul Breitner not to own a World Cup Winners medal.

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