June 20, 2002

Brazil 1 England 0

Patrick Crozier | World Cup

The 1970 version that is, was broadcast in full by our very own BBC last night. Yes that's right the full 90 minutes of a game played 32 years ago, of which the result is well known was aired by the BBC just past the peak. I don't know how many of my compatriots joined me to watch it but it was marvellous. Now, I do not normally like complimenting a statist organisation that relies on theft for the lion's share of its income, but on this occasion the Beeb done good.

It was fascinating on so many levels. It was fascinating to see what you knew: the save by Banks, that tackle by Moore, Jairzinho's goal, Astle's miss, Pele and Moore swapping shirts at the end. And it was fascinating to see what you didn't know.

For instance, I had never realised what a good commentator David Coleman was. Mind you he got off to a shaky start. "And England are in complete control of this game" just before Carlos Alberto passed to Jairzinho, Jairzinho rounded Cooper, Jairzinho crossed to Pele, Pele made that header and Banks made that save. But beyond that he was superb. He quite correctly pointed out that Jairzinho and Paulo Cesar were making mincemeat of Cooper and Wright down the flanks. And he also worked out that England's best chance lay in putting high balls into the area.

Talking of Jairzinho - what a player. Quick, skillful, strong. Not difficult to see how he managed to score in every game (a record still unmatched). To these untrained eyes he easily put Pele into the shade, though Pele did have his moments.

And talking of that save. I can remember my father telling me about it. It was probably in response to some question like "What was the greatest save ever?" When you are that age you believe everything your parents tell you. As you get older you get more cynical. But it has interesting to note that as I have got older the more that save gets mentioned and the more orthodox it becomes that it was indeed the greatest save ever.

There were all sorts of other little details to tell us how the world has changed: the fuzzy picture; the lack of camera angles (not all changes are for the better); there wasn't even a camera behind the goal; the amateurish advertising hoardings; the management teams sat on the bench unprotected from the elements; the sound cracking up; the lack of a score or a clock in the top left of the picture; no names on the backs of the shirts; no sports company logos on the shirts; commentators sticking to the facts rather than attempting to synthesize drama; referees in black; defenders being able to pass back to the goalie (some changes are for the better)

That was one of the reasons I watched the whole 90 minutes. People talk a lot about the game and I missed it first time round. It was an opportunity to find out what people are talking about in a way that can't be done with mere highlights. To see the context.

It was astonishing how slow the game was. Coleman described it as resembling a game of chess. Now, I know it was hot in Guadalajara that day but even so. Players are lot a fitter these days.

People talk about how bad Brazilian goalkeepers are but Felix was in a class of his own. If he'd flapped any more he would have taken off.

There were a whole load of incidents people don't talk about. Francis Lee had a couple of wonderful opportunities. And then he committed a shocking foul on the goalkeeper. And there's Coleman and his sidekick Revie saying "Well, it was a 50/50 ball he had to go for it." Banks losing his temper with his defenders.

If there was one disappointment it was at half time. I was fascinated to know what they would do? Would they have a modern day panel of pundits? Would they have the pundits from the same day (unlikely seeing as I think only ITV had pundits at the time)? Would they show the news from that day in 1970? I was fascinated to know how the BBC did used to fill the time in those days. But alas I was not to find out: the half ended and they cut straight to the second half. Oh well, I suppose even with as wonderful a rerun as this you can't have it all.

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