Here it is – issue two of the 5 Forgotten England Games series. Fresh from their contrasting fixtures against Spain and Switzerland, England are in bang average form. You can probably recall the Spain game pretty well, if not the forgettable match in Leicester. Read on to learn a few things about England’s much older history. If you remember all five of these games, you really are doing well…
1 – Austria 2-1 England, 1936, Friendly
Just as good as Hungary’s 1950s side was Austria’s team in the 1930s. Much less well documented though, this wonderful generation of players went largely forgotten in terms of long-term legacies. Dominated by Arsenal players, England made a poor start in Vienna, as Rudolf Viertl scored an 11th-minute opener. The Austria Vienna forward had put his nation into the lead. Just six minutes later, Everton goalkeeper Edward Sagar was beaten again – this time by a different Rudolf, Geiter. The 23-year-old’s goal had Austria in a dominant 2-0 lead at the interval.
Middlesbrough forward George Camsell showed his class on 54 minutes, as he headed in from a parried shot by Clifford Bastin. What a cracking name. Camsell’s England career brought him 18 goals. That’s impressive, but what’s more impressive is that he scored all those goals in just 9 games. Two goals per game really would be a strike rate to be proud of these days. John Langenus of Belgium was the referee and, unfortunately for England, Austria’s golden generation had shown their class. They held on to an impressive 2-1 home victory over.
You are wholeheartedly forgiven if you don’t remember this game…even if you watched it. Already with seven points from a possible nine, England had made a good start to their World Cup 2006 qualifying campaign. Their last of four Germany ’06 qualifiers in 2004 saw them face minnows Azerbaijan in Baku. The match was officiated by a Luxembourgian refereeing team, and Azerbaijan’s number 10 was a free agent. Bleak. And it was bleak. An entirely dull and immemorable game was won by a single Michael Owen strike – his 28th of 40 for his country. A lovely cross from Ashley Cole sailed over a leaping defender, before Owen nodded the ball home clinically. England never added to their 22nd-minute opener, winning the match 1-0. They went on to qualify for the World Cup, losing to Portugal at the quarter-finals on penalties, again.
The last of England’s six pre-tournament friendlies ahead of Euro ’92 was against Finland. Held at the Olympiastadion in Helsinki, 16,000 turned out to watch Graham Taylor’s side come from a goal behind to claim a nervy 2-1 away win. England played poorly for the first twenty-minutes, presumably shocked by a devastating early injury that forced John Barnes off. As Finland countered well from an England attack, Marseille defender Trevor Steven looked to have mistimed a last-ditch challenge. Finnish fans roared as their side were awarded an admittedly debatable penalty. Experienced forward Ari Hjelm drove the ball home for 1-0 Finland. England so nearly gained an immediate response, but hit goalkeeper, post and the roof-of-the-net as they were kept out somehow.
Eventually, Finland did lose control. Steven made up for the unlucky penalty call to put Bari forward David Platt through brilliantly. Platt tucked the ball under the goalkeeper for the equaliser. It had come right before half-time. England took a 62nd-minute lead when Carlton Palmer’s long throw was nodded on bravely by Mark Wright. David Platt made the run in and volleyed past the goalkeeper. He, and England, had scored two. If you remember Iceland’s ‘throw-in goal’ against England at Euro 2016, this was a carbon-copy. The difference is that England weren’t conceding it, they were scoring it. Taylor’s team held on to claim a deserved victory.
Officially, this was a friendly. However, in reality it was England’s first [and Scotland’s second] game of the 1988 Rous Cup. This was an annual two- or three-team tournament held between 1985 and 1989. This, the penultimate edition, was won by England. Scotland had already claimed a 0-0 draw with Colombia, before facing England on 21st May at Wembley. The Three Lions fielded a strong eleven, including Peter Shilton, Gary Lineker and John Barnes.
The only goal of this game was thanks to great intelligence from Peter Beardsley. As a throw-in came towards him, he dummied the ball, leaving it for Barnes. The Jamaican-born midfielder played the ball back to an advancing Beardsley, immediately. Beardsley evaded a committed sliding challenge from Neil Simpson, before dinking the ball over goalkeeper James Leighton. England had taken an early lead, but they never added to it. A string of extraordinary Leighton saves denied England a second goal. In a performance much more convincing than it may look, England saw off Scotland by just one goal. The Three Lions went on to draw with South Americans Colombia, and win their second Rous Cup tournament.
5 – Ireland 1-8 England, 1884, British Home Championships
This was a truly monumental match. Not only was this England’s first ever Home Championships match, it was also The Three Lions’ first ever competitive fixture. Only two of Ireland’s starting eleven played for teams other than Cliftonville and Distillery. Meanwhile, five of England’s original selected team were unable to play here for different reasons. That mattered not one jot as they romped to a huge 8-1 win in Belfast. Forward-two Henry Cursham and Charles Bambridge did the damage, both hitting a hat-trick. In what was only England’s twentieth game, they stormed to a seven-goal victory. United Ireland had become regular whipping-boys for England, who had beaten them 13-0 and 7-0 in their last two encounters.