England v Romania…
1st Group Game
Tuesday June 2nd 1970 – Kick-Off: 4pm
We got the coach there. We had no trouble getting to the (Jalisco) stadium because everything was laid on for us as part of the package.
We were dropped off by our coach about half a mile from the Jalisco Stadium. We walked the rest of the way. So there was time to soak-up the atmosphere.
They came and picked us up in the bus and took us to the ground. We didn’t have to travel too far from where we were staying – twenty minutes at most. Of course, you’d get caught in the traffic jams. And when we got there they told us what time they’d collect us to go back. There was never any problem. Everyone turned up on time. No messing around.
We got to the stadium by coach. It dropped you off and picked you up. We didn’t hang about much. Just walked in.
Outside the stadium were just people and noise and music and drums and bands. We were frisked as we went in. The police were very serious and, I think, armed. They were certainly determined to see that there was little trouble I remember being frisked before every game. I believed that this was general and not something personal! In fact I tried to make a bit of a joke about the frisking but the policeman just stared at me a bit menacingly. I do know when to back off! They didn’t seem too heavy-handed though.
The policing was ok I think.
The Jalisco Stadium was a fine ground.
It was a very good stadium – quite modern compared to ours at home at the time. There were no stanchions for sightlines. There was nothing to block your view.
The stadium was ten times better than ours at home. We’d never seen anything like it – especially as we were used to going down The Den! It was a vast stadium. We had designated seats. As far as I can remember they was just benches. We was behind the goal at the England end.
The stadium was alright. Like a concrete bowl really. It was partially covered and was quite new. I think it had probably been up-graded for the World Cup.
The organisation within the stadium left a little bit to be desired though. There were few stewards – if any.
I’m pretty sure we had all the match tickets in advance. Quite often these days you pick them up on the day from the venues. I probably carried them around – crumpled-up in my pocket. Wouldn’t do that today! But it was easy finding our seat. We were in a block of England supporters behind one of the goals.
Our seats were high up behind the goal. There were plenty of English fans in the stadium and they made plenty of noise.
It was a good atmosphere. All the games we were behind the goal. There might have been a choice with ticket prices and we probably went for the cheapest option. There were probably no Romanians there. No Russians or Bulgarians [at their games] either I should think. You needed permission to travel if you were from the Eastern block – unless you were a party official I suppose. . Anyway, at four in the afternoon it was still hot. Quite a sticky heat. I didn’t even wear a hat as far as I remember. And I don’t think I carried around bottles of water either.
I don’t think bottled water was around much then.
We had a good idea of what the team was going to be but we didn’t hear any whispers or anything.
I never saw newspapers so didn’t know the team selection. Even in Germany during the 2006 World Cup, people back home know a lot more about what’s going on than the people out there. But I was confident and the team selection was OK – as expected really.
When England came out we sang ‘God Save The Queen’ as loud as we could.
It was a fairly dull game as I remember it. We did enough to win.
The game itself was a bit of a blur apart from Hurst’s goal. It was slow-motion football. Not our strength, of course. You had to get used to the slower pace. You weren’t going to see British-style football – not in that climate. But, nothing wrong with getting off to a slow start in the World Cup. Much better than starting with a bang as it raises expectations too much.
At the end of the game, there was nowhere to really go round the outside of the stadium. So, we just found our coach and went back to the hotel.
However, returning to our motels after this, our coach literally ‘ran the gauntlet’ – with the throwing of tomatoes, buckets of water and other unmentionables commonplace. But in fairness, a small contingent of younger children and women were waving the Union Jack. And when we were not on the coach I remember people being friendly. I can’t say that I felt any animosity towards us as individuals.
Back at our hotel, we were weighed to see how much weight we had lost. Then we were given bottles of mineral water to drink and told to lie down for a few hours. When you are dehydrated, your whole body aches. It took me thirty-six hours to recover fully.