Whenever we play Poland, the commentator without fail mentions 1973. In 1973, England needed to beat Poland at Wembley to qualify for the 1974 World Cup Finals. Before the match, Brian Clough had called the Polish goalkeeper, Jan Tomaszewski, a clown. Of course, Jan went on to play a blinder, the score ended up 1-1, and England were out.
Tonight, we get our revenge...Again.
Every match for England is revenge for something. And every time we've played Poland since 1973 its been revenge for that fateful night. In 1974 and 1982, Poland came third in the World Cup. Which suggests that they may have been a better team than England in both those campaigns. Don't you just love the word "campaign"?
But just as the Germans' most important match of 1990 was the World Cup Final (not the Gazza tears semi against England), I wouldn't have thought the Poles quite remember 1973 as vividly as 1974.
Except of course for Jan Tomaszewski. The clown. Who is here tonight at Old Trafford. Old and bald. And not smiling. Not entertaining children. Not wearing big shoes. No face paint. Not squirting water from a plastic flower into Bobby Charlton's face. But sad, yes. Ah, the tears of a clown when there's no-one around. Just wait till he's back in his hotel room. With nothing but memories of how he kept at bay the English with their flair and their hair and their blood sweating for their country. Nothing but memories of that night. Nothing.
John Motson reminds us of 1973 and the clown.
"The older generation amongst you might remember..."
I remember, alright. Make us a cup of tea, love. I think I'd better give up this bowls lark, soon. My back's killing me. Is it me or is it cold in here?
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