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Blog 14: Our man in Qatar!

And back to history

The 1974 World Cup in Germany is best remembered for its final when the “total football” played by the Netherlands, to that point a minnow in world football was in stark contrast to the efficiency of Germany led by “der Kaiser,” Franz Beckenbauer.

The Dutch team led by the mesmeric Johan Cruyff, and undefeated all the way up to the final, took a one goal lead without West Germany ever touching the ball. The penalty was awarded by English referee Jack Taylor who the Germans claimed did so as revenge for the Blitz of World War Two (it was a penalty)

The Dutch with Neeskens, Rensenbrink, Jonny Rep and the van der Kerkhof brothers played a style of football not seen before with the West Germans chasing ghosts for much of the first half. The Dutch style, later to be known as ‘total football’ relied on being in control of the speed of the game and of the ball. Motivated by their county’s experience of the Nazi occupation to beat the Germans but Paul Breitner, who idolised Chairman Mao, equalised with a penalty and Gerd Muller ‘der Bomber’ scored what proved to be the winner. Asked years later about the game, Cruyff said “maybe we were the real winners in the end….the world remembers our team more.”

The West Germans had earlier beaten the first ever Australian team to play at a World Cup 3-0 (the Aussies were all amateurs and had the misfortune to also play the East Germans, losing 2-0, finishing their campaign with a creditable draw with Chile). Many Australians ignored football as something played by “sheilas, wogs and poofters” and our media thought so little of the world game they had never broadcast a World Cup match on television. It was the 1974 team of Johnny Warren, Peter Wilson, Jimmy Rooney, Ray Richards and the indigenous player Harry Williams playing for clubs such as Safeway United, St. George Budapest, Marconi and APIA Leichhardt who provided the platform for the Socceroos we know today

I’m sure Arnie will remind them of that tonight as they take on Tunisia. H’way the lads!


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