International football

Craig Brown's reign was a pretty joyless one, but the blame for Scotland's plight lies elsewhere, says Ken Gall. And bidding for Euro 2008 will make things worse

The strangely high-pitched booing at the end of Scotland’s wretched World Cup tie against Latvia (courtesy of thousands of primary school children fortunate enough to receive free tickets) marked a slightly surreal end to Craig Brown’s term as nat­ion­al manager. Yet the manner of Brown’s departure was symptomatic of much of his eight years in charge. Once again we had the passionless Hampden oc­cas­ion, the tie against a Baltic state (entire stretches of his reign appear to have taken place against these coun­tries) and the unmerited victory somehow ground out against palpably more gifted opponents.

Phillip Cornwall & Tom Davies debate how having Sven-Göran Eriksson in charge of the national team will affect fan attitudes

Yes ~
Who would have thought, a year ago, that los­ing to Germany could be the best thing to happen to the English game in over 30 years? But, provided that we do what is necessary against the Greeks, how else to describe the appointment of Sven-Goran Eriksson?

Ulf Roosvald spent time with Tord Grip when England's assistant coach first came to London. Here he profiles the man who walks two steps behind Sven

It was the day of calm before the storm. Tord Grip pre­pared himself by renewing his wardrobe. He stepped inside a men’s outfitters in Soho and said a friendly good morning to the shopkeepers – in French to Karim from Algeria, in English to his colleague. Two months in London had been enough to become a reg­ular. When he leaves he is carrying two bags with a new blazer, two pairs of trousers, three ties. “I’m not vain by any means, but I have to look good if I’m going to sit next to Sven­nis. He always wears tailored suits, you know.”

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger explains why most German fans were not quite as upset by the result in Munich as their English counterparts would have liked

All German Sunday papers have sold out at Mun­ich’s main railway station, that’s why everybody on the train to Frankfurt is now hunched over the Observer or the Sunday Times. Or maybe it’s because, in this coach, they’re all English. Apart from me. The two men from Leicester at my table have im­mersed themselves in pieces on a cricketer called Keith Par­sons and the Ryder Cup, respectively. The six or eight fans from near Liverpool behind me are dis­cussing with gusto an article that mentions “drunken English football fans”, “baton-wielding German riot police” and “blood pouring from wounds”.

The allocation of tickets has caused more chaos and disruption than anything else, Mark Perryman explains how more needs to be done to ensure that England fans are catered for

The official FA ticket allocation for the match in Germany was around 6,000 seats, but a nightmare ensued for many hundreds who had snapped these places up only to head for Munich with no sign of their tickets. This was the first away match involving the relaunched supporters club, “englandfans”, run by the FA. All members sign an agreement which allows the FA to cross-reference applications against criminal records. This process undoubtedly contributed to the delay in issuing tickets.

Ken Gall argues that the demise of the home internationals left Scotland chasing irrelevant targets such as the World Cup

With Björn Borg-style skinny-fit tracksuits and Go­la trainers in the shops, and Planet of the Apes set to be the summer’s hit movie, surely all we need to complete a nostalgia-fest for jaded thirty-somethings is the return of the home internationals. For Scots fans of that age, the memories linger: Brian Moore in the commentary box with Sir Alf; male relatives drinking cans of beer in the afternoon around the television; the Hampden roar; the offensive chants about Jimmy Hill.

Mark Perryman discusses the need for England fans to set a good example for future generations

At the end of June, some 30,000 England supporters belonging to the England Members Club received a brightly coloured envelope through their letter boxes. It was a package that most had been expecting, the news that the EMC was being replaced with a new organisation.

When Holland visited Hudderfield in 1946, they met one of England's best ever teams. But, says Cris Freddi, the result also had more to do with the experiences of the two countries during the war

Like England, the Dutch had started their postwar schedule with a glut of goals, winning their first two matches 6-2 – but no one was unduly fooled. Strictly amateur, with no great international pedigree, a football that hadn’t survived the war as well as Eng­land’s – there was nothing false about Holland’s pre-match modesty.

Cris Freddi  dredges up some of international football's worst mismatches. If you come from Guam, it's probably best to look away now

Gotti Fuchs must be kicking himself in his grave. Back in 1912, Germany seem to have taken their foot off the pedal immediately after he’d scored his tenth goal against Russia. There were still 20 minutes to go (around the same as when Archie Thompson hit double figures against American Sam­oa), but Fuchs’s tenth was their last. They probably thought enough was enough, but if they’d set him up for a couple more he would have broken the world record instead of equalling it, and they wouldn’t have fallen one short as a team. A more genteel era? Only relatively – 16-0 isn’t exactly what you’d call merciful.

Greece escaped a FIFA threat to throw them out of the World Cup at the end of April. Paul Pomonis explains how they got in such a mess

When the newily appointed junior minister of sport Giorgos Florides declared his intention “to intervene institutionally and dynamically in football” in March 2000, few people took notice. A year later the Greek FA was seriously threatened with expulsion from FIFA. Florides, a 44-year-old lawyer, took over his post with the aim of achieving the often announced katharsi (cleaning up) of Greek football. It soon became obvious that for him katharsi meant the removal of Victor Mitropoulos, head of EPAE, the Greek FA.