THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Saturday 1 Paul Gascoigne denies press stories that place him at the centre of the "high jinks" on the England tour plane, saying, "All the newspapers are going to be sued over this," Robbie Fowler, fingered instead as the main culprit, says, "Anyone claiming I was involved had better be prepared to go to court." They might bump into Terry while they're there.

Saturday 8
Venables responds to England's disappointing performance by giving the players two days off. "Relaxed players are happy players," he says, neglecting to add whether they are also good players. Press reaction to the 1-1 draw with Switzerland is predictably apocalyptic.

Monday 10 After protests from Scottish viewers, ITV will drop their Euro '96 signature tune, 'Jerusalem', when they cover Scotland games. They will also replace graphics showing the White Cliffs of Dover and Bobby Moore with the 1966 World Cup. Heritage Secretary Virginia Bottomley says the government would be prepared to use national lottery money to back a bid to bring the 2006 World Cup to England, or Britain (ie England plus Hampden and the new stadium in Cardiff) particularly if it might help the Conservatives stay in power. The FA will decide whether to bid by Christmas - it will take from then until 2006 to perfect a ticketing system guaranteed to annoy anyone wanting to pay to see a match.

Monday 10 Several papers report that three England players - Teddy Sheringham, Jamie Redknapp and Sol Campbell - were out in an Essex nightclub until the early hours of Sunday morning. "They had been given permission to go out and relax," says an FA spokesman. Party Animals says the Daily Mail. The Sun thinks Scotland will be In For The Kilt against England on Saturday, reporting Craig Brown as saying: "We are going to Wembley to win." After 38 bookings and two sendings-off in the first six matches, PFA chief Gordon Taylor is among those criticizing refereeing standards: "The number of cautions is out of proportion to the spirit of fair play that has existed."

Tuesday 11 Unhappy over the press coverage of the nightclub trip, Terry Venables hits back: "These were three young boys who kept together and had a beer. They are aghast at what has been written about them." About the press he says: "These people are turning the public against the players. There are a few that seem like traitors to us. We will fight them on the beaches." (OK, two out of three.)

Wednesday 12
Bryan Robson chips in with his views on the reports about the England players' weekend break, which may also serve as a handy excuse for club managers from now on: "It's getting so bad that some of the younger players are afraid to play because of the coverage they know they will get." Leeds announce that Gary McAllister is for sale for £3 million. Arsenal and Rangers are interested. Sampdoria have offered £5 million for Savo Milosevic, which suggests they must have seen a video of his Coca Cola Cup goal and nothing else.

Thursday 13 Euro 96 organizers blame the rows of empty seats on foreign federations failing to sell their allocations and say tickets, which previously had to be bought five days in advance, will now be available on matchdays. There's a barney in New Jersey between Mexico and the Rep of Ireland with three sent off - Liam Daish, Niall Quinn, who rushes off the bench to remonstrate when Daish is dismissed, and Mick McCarthy, who throws the ball into the crowd to prevent the Mexicans taking a quick free kick. It finishes 2-2. Sheffield Wed are to get their money back for Yugoslav striker Darko Kovacevic, who is to join Real Sociedad. A mystery consortium of "City-backed Yorkshire businessmen" (Michael Parkinson? Bernard Ingham?) will match the £2o million bid for Leeds put up by media group Caspian.

Friday 14 Edgar Davids is sent home after criticizing Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, who had left him out of the match with Switzerland. The Romanian FA lodge an official complaint about the disallowing of their goal against Bulgaria. "Imperfection is part of our game," says UEFA's spokesman. Dave Merrington is sacked by Southampton and says: "The matter is now in the hands of my solicitor. It's not much reward for the efforts of last season." Birmingham City want to buy Jean-Pierre Papin. His response is not reported.

Sunday 16 Mick McCarthy gets his first win in his eighth match as Republic of Ireland manager - they beat Bolivia 3-0 in the US Cup. "I'd be happy with 50% of Jack's success," he says. Some work to do yet, then. Up to fifteen people are killed in Lusaka after Zambia's World Cup qualifier against Sudan. The crowd has rushed for the exits after rumours spread that a bomb was about to explode.

Monday 17 The Mirror builds up for the game with Holland with a front page picture of Dennis Bergkamp headlined Enemy!. They also suggest it will be a "national disgrace" if England fail to qualify. Let's hope the players remember this when they give post-match interviews. George Graham has turned down an approach from Southampton. Interestingly for Dave Merrington, George appears to have been contacted about the vacancy before it became vacant.

Tuesday 18 Edam Busters says the Mirror, while the Sun, oddly restrained, can't manage better than Land of Hope and Foury. "I never expected a result like this," says Terry Venables, "The set pieces and finishing were first class." Reflecting on Scotland's near miss, Craig Brown says, "We didn't have any luck against Holland or England otherwise it would have been a different story." (Scotland were unlucky against Holland??) Marcel Desailly claims to have been racially abused by Hristo Stoichkov during France's match with Bulgaria, something Stoichkov doesn't deny: "If you took a microphone around every player they would all be saying things like that." Sergei Kiriakov is dropped from the Russian team after calling manager Oleg Romantsev an "arsehole".

Thursday 20 Just as the press predicted, English hooligans do their best to destroy the prevailing mood of goodwill surrounding Euro '96. They work for the Daily Mirror. Part of a feature on the build up to the England v Spain game is a list of Ten Nasties Spain's Given Europe. Alongside syphilis and the Inquisition, there is carpet bombing, "invented during the Spanish civil war when Guernica was flattened". By the Luftwaffe, in fact. The Spanish were on the receiving end. Just imagine what our tabloids' reaction would have been if people had died after the Manchester bomb and a Spanish paper had made a joke about it. Hanging's too good for 'em. Oh, and Mike Walker's going to be the new manager of Norwich. (Hasn't that happened before?)

Saturday 22 "We showed passion, spirit and guts. Now the opposition is concentrating on how to stop us playing. That's complimentary in any language," says Terry Venables. "I could hear my wife's voice saying, 'Oh no not you again,' so I felt absolutely delighted when it went in," says Stuart Pearce. "We spent a lot of time in their territory. I thought we were superior," says Javier Clemente. Most of the papers take the same tack as the News of the World which hails "the biggest triumph over Spain since Francis Drake's defeat of the Armada". There are also several reports of fights between British holidaymakers and locals on the Costa del Sol. Now how could people have got so wound up about a silly old footy match, hmmm?

Sunday 23 Thousands turn up at Wembley expecting to be able to buy tickets for the semi, but are turned away. Unlike for the quarter-final, spares can only be bought by phone. Organizers estimate that a million calls had been made to the hotline number. Pity it was always engaged. Jürgen Klinsmann's calf muscle injury will keep him out of the semi. "Every little bit helps, but they are all good players and we have got to make sure we show them respect," says Terry Venables.

Sunday 23 Achtung! Surrender says the Mirror's front page, alongside a message from the editor parodying Neville Chamberlain's radio announcement of the declaration of war in 1939 (it's humour y'see, just a giggle for the chaps at Canary Wharf). The Star foregoes any attempt at irony with Herr We Go - Bring On the Krauts while the Sun offers Let's Blitz Fritz. Sir Bert Millichip sets out to beat all existing records for back pedalling by an 80-year-old, saying: "Terry knows I did my utmost to persuade him not to go."

Monday 24 The tabloids' war frenzy prompts the largest number of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission since Hillsborough, MPs table a motion deploring the the "jingoistic nonsense in the tabloid press" and Terry Venables says: "We want patriotism not hate. It's a football match not a war." England lose the draw to decide which team will wear their first-choice strip, which means the players will be turning out in grey (to hell with 'indigo blue'). Chelsea sign French defender Frank Leboeuf for £2.5 million, which should extent the life of the beef joke for at least another year.

Wednesday 26 The Czechs' winning penalty taker Miroslav Kadlec says he only took the kick because no one else wanted to: "I had not taken a penalty for about five years but I didn't want to see an argument break out so I took it." "I don't know whether we deserved to go through but that's what football is like," says French coach Aimé Jacquet. After the Wembley match, Terry Venables says: "This team can look forward to the future with their heads held high. There is nothing to be downhearted about apart from the result." "I have never seen such a strong England team but we merited our victory," says Berti Vogts. "It is going to take a long time for me to get over it," says Gareth Southgate. The television audience is estimated at 26.2 million, roughly a million more than watched the 1990 World Cup Semi-Final.

Friday 28 UEFA permit Germany to add an extra player to their injury hit squad, the Germans having claimed that they might have to use their reserve goalkeepers as outfield substitutes. The Czechs have been offered the same dispensation but decline. Blackburn and Man Utd continue to deny that Alan Shearer is about to move to Old Trafford with either Andy Cole or Paul Scholes going in the opposite direction. Blackburn's vehement denials would not, of course, have anything with the effect of the rumours on their season ticket sales.

Sunday 30 Dusan Uhrin claims that Stefan Kuntz was offside when Bierhoff scored the winner: "The linesman definitely had his flag up but the referee ignored him," to which Berti Vogts responds: "Maybe the linesman wanted to tell the referee that the penalty he gave against us should not have been allowed," adding, "I think we were the best team in the tournament and have rightly been crowned."

From WSC 114 August 1996. What was happening this month

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