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France ’98

June 4, 2014

“Who’s put this on?? Get it bloody off, the national anthem’s starting!”

One of the Henhurst Club regular’s was less than impressed when the chorus of Vindaloo started booming out before God Save the Queen started.

It was England v Argentina in the last 16 and I had been allowed out on a school night, sat with all the blokes in front of the small tele in the pool room of Henhurst Club.

Cigarette smoke wafted through the air as the sun streamed through the window on this typically warm June night.

Over in St Etienne, the game kicked off.

First blood went to the Argies, Batistuta with a penalty. Young Michael Owen duly went and won us a peno, Shearer slamming it home. 1-1.

Then one of the great England World Cup moments happened. Michael Owen was still in the centre circle when he received David Beckham’s pass, but raw pace took him past the dumbstruck Argentina defence before he shot into the top corner, sending St Etienne, Henhurst Club, and most of England into raptures. What a goal.

Just before half-time Argentina pulled 1 back, and from then on it was more moments I’m sure you all remember well. Beckham’s red card, Campbell’s disallowed goal. Before you know it, it’s penalties again.

And before you know it, another World Cup dream is over. I was genuinely gutted. All the belief and hope snatched away by once again, a missed penalty kick.

The wrong result, but a World Cup classic. Highlights – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb4pJPaKtq4

Apparently the Argentinian’s were less than gracious in victory, something the England players would remember for a long time…


World Cup fever was high in the Goldsmith household, not only had England qualified, but Scotland had too! With Mum being Scottish and us lads obviously being half-Scottish, we had more than a passing interest in their group fixtures. (Even if their World Cup song was rubbish – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T68AXsUAEI)

A giant England flag made out of paper adorned the wall, and at least 4 wall-charts. (I’ll be lucky to be allowed 1 up this year!) One of the newspaper supplements listed the food and beers for each competing nation, so Dad would sit drinking the different beers whilst Mum cooked us the various dishes, but drew the line at Netherlands hash-cake.

Brazil vs Scotland was the opening game, and all was going to plan for the Brazilians as Cesar Sampaio headed them in front. But the Scots weren’t gonna lie down and take a first day battering! (Scotland, battered food, get it?!) Back they fought, winning a penalty which the ice-cool John Collins put away calmly, sending the Scots wild in celebration.

As well as they played, Scotland couldn’t hold out for at least a point, and I think it was in typical Scottish fashion the way they managed to lose the game. It wasn’t a sublime piece of skill from Ronaldo that won the game for the Brazilians, but an unfortunate and calamitous Tom Boyd own goal, the type of which if I wasn’t half-Scottish, and my Mum wasn’t nearby, I would’ve had a good chuckle at… Poor Tom Boyd – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hqVTbQXA7Y (listen out for the American commentary and their description of Ronaldo!)


It was a World Cup I look back on with good memories. Baddiel & Skinner were back with Three Lions ’98 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzxMjBEazas) and well, I honestly didn’t know what a “Vindaloo” was before this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLph6ePNkGQ – no words needed.

Ronaldo (the original) was on form and didn’t disappoint, well until the final anyway, whilst the Croatians surprised everyone by making the semi’s. The Moroccans were quick and good to watch – 2 of their star names, Mustapha Hadji and Yousseff Chippo even ended up in the Prem with Coventry, and then there was Jose Luis Chilavert, the Paraguayan goalkeeper who would rush upfield to take his sides attacking free-kicks.

But it was the French who finally stole the limelight, even though on home turf they surprised everyone by how easy they swept Brazil aside in the final. There was drama in the studio pre-match as reports came in that Ronaldo wasn’t in the Brazil starting line-up. Then “breaking news” came in that Ronaldo was actually fit to play and would be starting for Brazil… as the game got underway however, it was obvious Ronaldo wasn’t quite right. He looked slow, sluggish, the total opposite of how he’d performed prior to the final.

France went onto win 3-0 courtesy of 2 Zidane headers and a Manu Petit goal. Rumours after the game were that Ronaldo had suffered a fit before kick-off, here’s a BBC article on the matter – http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport3/worldcup2002/hi/history/newsid_1749000/1749324.stm

All the stats and facts from France ’98 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_FIFA_World_Cup – Del Amitri wouldn’t have been happy as Scotland came home too soon once again, and have never been back to a major tournament since. Spain went out at the group stage, as did Belgium despite not losing a game and Jamaica, competing at their first ever finals.

All the World Cup ’98 goals – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hNPdOaX2oU

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