The next day we headed down to Mexico City. I think that was already set-up as part of our itinerary – though I’m sure we would’ve been staying in Guadalajara had England been playing the semi-final there..
We went by coach from Guadulajara.
We then had tickets for the semi-final in Mexico City – Italy v West Germany. Virtually all our lot from the motel were booked all the way through. Even though England was out we were still part of this big adventure.
People on the coach still couldn’t believe England had lost. I picked up more information from the people who’d been to Leon for the game.
I felt far more relaxed now.
We travelled some 300 or 400 miles by coach. It was a long journey.
We travelled down to Mexico City by coach along winding mountain roads. It took about twelve-to-fourteen hours.
The roads were pretty dusty – even in parts of Guadalajara they were unmade roads. The highways between cities were sort of half-and-half.
Our hotel was on a busy main street. Near enough to the middle. Centre-ish. There was a big square nearby.
We found ourselves in Cuautla, a small spa town up in the hills some 60 miles south of Mexico City. This was our new base. It was the only time the organisers of the trip got it wrong. The thing was the hotel they had booked us into was awful. We all got together and our courier said that there was nothing they could do, and we said, “Well you’d better do something because we’re not staying here!” It was almost like a Salvation Army soup kitchen! They got us transferred.
We eventually finished up in a motel in Cuernavaca, which was a fair way outside Mexico City. Probably about an hour-and-a-half from the centre.
We were in a motel about 50 miles outside Mexico City. It had grounds in it.
The motel accommodation was excellent; with everything we needed close at hand. A swimming pool, we all had our own rooms – you know like two to a room. All the meals were laid on.
I immediately found the local Mexicans to be much more friendly towards us. Perhaps it was because England was now out, or because the snub to the Guadalajara officials was felt less acutely in this area. Whatever the reason, the final eight days of my stay were spent in more cordial and relaxing surroundings.
It wasn’t all football by the way. Some of us took in the culture, believe it or not. I don’t recall any lager-louts then! They’d organised mini-buses for us and we went to art galleries and the Aztec pyramids.
Sightseeing trips were arranged as usual, and one I can remember well was the visit to the Aztec Indian Pyramids. They were massive and the steps to the top were very big, bigger in fact than the terracing steps behind the goals at the old Wembley Stadium.
We had a trip around Mexico City. As you came down from Cuautla into Mexico City for a few miles all you saw was corrugated iron hovels. Then you got into Mexico City and it was fantastic.
We took a tour of the city and we went past a cinema in Mexico City, which had a big poster outside of Peter O’Toole’s latest film ‘Adios, Senor Chips’.
I didn’t look round Mexico City much. I was never a walker. Went to Rome a couple of years ago and we went to the Vatican. And the walking I done in there… Well, it nearly killed me!
The trip revolved around three things really – Canada Shoes (an international footwear company), Coca Cola, and the ‘peasant’ population – many of who didn’t own shoes… We stopped outside the home of, I think, the owner of Canada Shoes. Outside there were Rolls Royce’s and chauffeurs – it seemed two or three deep. Actually it seemed half the adverts I had seen on the television were for Canada Shoes and the other half were for Coca Cola.
Coca Cola was a universal thing, you know. There were adverts for it everywhere.
They didn’t even wait for the proper advert breaks during football when advertising Coca Cola on TV – they just ran the adverts over the top of the game while it was actually being played. It was almost subliminal – a glass of Coca Cola appearing on the screen and somebody shouting ‘Drink Coca Cola!’ – then it would vanish and you’d be back at the game.
We didn’t come across many (other) fans in Mexico City. In fact it might be true to say that in those days’ supporters didn’t travel in vast armies. Even in those days we took more fans than anyone else I think.
I was a bit deflated because England was out but footballs football isn’t it. I was still up for seeing some football. I’d go and watch football anywhere. It was a new place; we were going to a new stadium everyone had heard about beforehand.