With the World Cup hoving into view on the horizon, there are plenty of books out there aimed at parting youÂ from a few of your hard earned shekels to get yourself in the mood for Putin’s propaganda party.
One of those is Out of the Shadows: The Story of the 1982 England World Cup TeamÂ by Gary Jordan – one of our legion of contributors.
Think back to a time when the England national time was much vaunted but regularly failed to deliver, both in terms of style and results. OK, we could be talking about almostÂ any time since theÂ SecondÂ World War in those respects but in the 1970s and early 80s the expectation and subsequent disappointments have rarely been matched. SetÂ in a time when English club sides swept all before them in continental competition and the Auld Enemy Scotland outperformed them on the world stage, England’sÂ repeated underachievementÂ trumps anything we might perceive as failure by the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ and the rest.
England’s qualification for the 1982 World Cup in Spain under the universally respectedÂ Ron Greenwood is the ultimate conclusion of the story – after all, it was the first timeÂ they had appeared in the finals for 12 years and the shocking quarter-final capitulation to West Germany in the Mexican heatÂ in 1970. But it is that early 70s fallow period thatÂ acts as the background to England’s wilderness years, asÂ the tenures of Sir Alf Ramsey, Joe Mercer and Don Revie are picked apart in great detail in order to illustrate how disorganised andÂ confused England and the FA had become in trying to not only repeat the glories of 1966, but also to arrest a rapidÂ slide into mediocrity. While this is vital to the crux of the story, perhaps a little too much time is taken painting those pictures rather than getting quickly into theÂ minutiae of the 1982 campaign.
Once weÂ finally arrive in the qualification process, Jordan adequately recounts the fraught journey to Spain via tricky trips to Hungary, Romania and, of course, the infamous humiliation in Norway. AlthoughÂ it’s clear from the protagonists’Â that their difficulties are perplexing, perhaps a sense of tension is lacking considering the stakes were so high.
This is also trueÂ for what should be aÂ dramatic crescendoÂ to the book. The finals tournament itself feels a little rushed given the detail which came before and while the high profile injuryÂ sagasÂ involving star players Trevor Brooking and Kevin KeeganÂ could maybe have been dealt with in a short chapter of their own,Â thankfullyÂ that narrative does not drown out everything else thatÂ occurred as England burst into the World Cup like a firework and spluttered out again at the second group stage.
If that period ofÂ England’s football historyÂ interests you then this book will act as a pleasant trip down memory lane, although it must be said that it’s debateable whether any newÂ insight is thrownÂ up from the myriad quotes from the likes of Paul Mariner, Phil Thompson and Greenwood himself.Â What Out of the Shadows certainlyÂ does deliver on isÂ theÂ ‘whats’ andÂ ‘hows’,Â but perhaps itÂ comes upÂ just shortÂ with theÂ ‘whys’ you mightÂ be looking for.
Out of the Shadows: The Story of the 1982 England World Cup TeamÂ by Gary Jordan is by Pitch Publishing and is available from their website HERE and on Amazon HEREÂ