Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A History of World Football in 100 Games - Part 12

Spain 4-3 England (15 May 1929) Estadio Metropolitano, Madrid

The performance of the Wembley Wizards in 1928 may have demonstrated a vulnerability within the England team, but against Continental opposition they remained preeminent. In over twenty games against teams from outside the British Isles England had never failed to win, and usually did so by a large margin. As such their tour of the Continent in 1929 could be regarded as something of a holiday.

In fairness the tour pitted them against some of the finest sides in Western Europe of the time. They started against France who they beat 4-1, with Edgar Kail and George Camsell both scoring doubles in an easy victory. Next were Belgium, the 1920 Olympic champions, and they too were brushed aside with a resounding 5-1 scoreline. Camsell scored 4 in the game, but suffered an injury that ruled him out of the final game of the tour.

George Camsell
 That match was against Spain, who had shown themselves to be a coming power of European football. After finishing second to the Belgians at the 1920 Olympics, they had demonstrated significant promise with multiple victories over France and Portugal. The arrival of professionalism in 1926 had given the Spaniards greater motivation to hone their skills and they proceeded to improve still further. In the months before facing England the Spanish had beaten Portugal 5-0 and France 8-1 to show the extent of their rise.

It was little wonder then that the home crowd was expectant, but the mile long queue which formed over four hours before the game for a chance to witness the game marked out the Spanish as fanatical supporters of football. The sweltering heat of a sunny May afternoon in Madrid coupled with the volume of fans provided an intimidating welcome for the visitors

England kicked off but soon found themselves on the back foot. Severino Goiburu, the only Spanish player who was not professional, received the ball from Gaspar Rubio and set off on a mazy dribble which ended with a shot flying narrowly over the bar. Mariano Yurrita, the Spanish left-winger, was the next to go close with a drive which went narrowly wide. It was not long though before England imposed themselves on the game.

With 19 minutes gone Hugh Adcock of Leicester City dribbled past a series of Spanish opponents before cutting back a cross for Joe Carter to start the scoring. Minutes later the two players combined again, with Carter beating Zamora to double the English advantage. At half-time and 2-0 up, England appeared to be in full control.

It did not take the Spaniards long to get back into the match. Just minutes after the interval Jose Maria Pena crossed for Rubio to head past Hufton and start the comeback. Now England were on the back foot and the Spanish capitalised on it when their outside-right, Jaime Lazcano, cut in from his wing and struck a rocket of a shot which flew past Hufton. The two  sides then took it in turns to attack with Hufton foiling Goiburu before Zamora turned away venomous efforts from Hill and Barry.

Ricardo Zamora
 England began to reassert themselves in the middle of the second-half and forced a series of corners but were unable to take advantage. Finally England’s dominance paid off as Jack Hill was put though and he beat Ricardo Zamora to restore England’s slender advantage. The searing heat took its toll on England in the latter stages of the game as they were just desperate to hold on. The Spanish appeared by far the fresher team and Lazcano drew them level with only minutes remaining. Almost immediately from the restart Goiburu charged forward and beat Hufton with a powerful shot that flew in at the near post.

As against Scotland at Wembley, England’s half-backs struggled to cope in Madrid. Martin Marculeta dominated the middle of the field and was a constant hindrance to England’s passing game. Up front Adcock and Carter impressed, but the team missed Camsell whose ability to lead the line and unsettle opposing defences counted for so much. Edgar Kail, who had so impressed against France, was largely a passenger though his presence should be noted as the last time a non-league amateur ever played for England.

The crowd had burst onto the pitch following Laczano’s equaliser, but following the final whistle the stadium descended into chaos. Such was the excitement of the crowd and their desire to celebrate with their heroes that the Civil Guard were required to escort the players from the pitch. England’s invincible record in Europe was over.

No comments: