It was like play­ing a World Cup in Whitby – Pea­cock

The 2018 World Cup kicks off on Thurs­day, but in 1962, things were very dif­fer­ent for an Eng­land side housed in huts in a moun­tain vil­lage in Chile. Richard Sut­cliffe talks to for­mer Leeds United and Mid­dles­brough striker Alan Pea­cock.

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - WORLD CUP 2018 -

THE ‘Bat­tle of San­ti­ago’ is per­haps what most read­ily springs to mind when talk turns to the 1962 World Cup.

Or, fail­ing that, how about the quar­ter-fi­nal tie when Jimmy Greaves, hav­ing crouched down on all fours to wres­tle a ca­nine in­vader to the ground, had the mis­for­tune to be­come the first and only player in the tour­na­ment’s his­tory to be uri­nated on by a dog?

For Alan Pea­cock, how­ever, those fi­nals in Chile are best re­mem­bered for the ar­du­ous travel ar­range­ments and the minis­cule crowds that watched Eng­land’s three group games in a rick­ety, lit­tle sta­dium.

“A bit like play­ing the World Cup in Whitby!” laughs the for­mer Leeds United and Mid­dles­brough striker when look­ing back with The York­shire Post to those few weeks he spent in South Amer­ica rep­re­sent­ing the Three Li­ons.

Eng­land, with Wal­ter Win­ter­bot­tom in charge at his fourth and fi­nal World Cup, headed across the At­lantic full of hope.

Qual­i­fi­ca­tion had been earned by elim­i­nat­ing a strong Por­tu­gal side and there was plenty of qual­ity within the 23-man trav­el­ling party as the likes of Greaves, Bobby Rob­son and Johnny Haynes teamed up with fu­ture World Cup win­ners Bobby Charlton and Ray Wil­son. Bobby Moore also made his in­ter­na­tional de­but in the fi­nal warm-up game, a 4-0 win over Peru in Lima that saw Greaves net a hat-trick.

Pea­cock, fresh from scor­ing 24 times for Mid­dles­brough in the Sec­ond Di­vi­sion dur­ing the pre­vi­ous sea­son, was just de­lighted to be part of the squad.

“Ev­ery­thing went for me at that time,” he re­calls. “I was in good form, hav­ing no prob­lems with in­jury and had scored some goals.

“The World Cup was cer­tainly an ex­pe­ri­ence and noth­ing like what they have nowa­days. The trav­el­ling, in par­tic­u­lar, was very dif­fer­ent.

“I met Bobby Rob­son at Dar­ling­ton sta­tion and then we caught the train to London to­gether. Once at the air­port, we all had to split up for the flight.

“I am not sure if that was down to not want­ing all of us on the same plane for safety rea­sons or what but we were split into two groups.

“It was a nor­mal char­ter flight to New York for our group. I had never been there and nei­ther had any of the lads. So, de­spite us only be­ing there for an hour or so be­fore our next flight was due to leave, four of us de­cided to jump in a taxi and head into the city.

“We just wanted to see the place so told the taxi driver to take us round all the sights. We didn’t have time to get out at any of them but we man­aged to see New York for our­selves. He then took us straight back to the air­port for our next flight. From there, we flew to Florida and then on again.”

Lessons had, at least, been learned from the 1958 World Cup. Eng­land had ar­rived in Swe­den just two days be­fore the tour­na­ment was due to start with no train­ing camp lined up. Win­ter­bot­tom then had to scout out suit­able fa­cil­i­ties, while his play­ers kicked their heels back at the ho­tel.

Eight years ear­lier in Brazil and the ‘plan­ning’, for want of a bet­ter word, had been even more lax with no pro­vi­sion made for the lo­cal food that proved to be too spicy for English tastes. On that oc­ca­sion, Win­ter­bot­tom had solved the prob­lem by head­ing into the kitchen and cook­ing the meals him­self.

In Chile, Eng­land’s group games were to be played in the lit­tle town of Rancagua. It had not been the or­gan­is­ers’ first choice but the dev­as­tat­ing Val­divia earth­quake that struck a cou­ple of years be­fore the tour­na­ment forced a change.

Eng­land’s train­ing camp was in a tiny moun­tain vil­lage called Coya, around 8,000 feet above sea level and boast­ing only ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties. The play­ers stayed in bar­rack-style huts, only ac­ces­si­ble over a wooden bridge with a 500ft drop ei­ther side. Some huts also had a cor­ru­gated roof, mean­ing the chances of sleep­ing dur­ing a rain storm were slim to non-ex­is­tent.

“There were three or four of us in each hut,” re­calls Pea­cock. “There wasn’t a lot to do in the vil­lage, ei­ther. The en­ter­tain­ment each night was, ba­si­cally, a bowl­ing al­ley in a res­tau­rant. A lit­tle boy would sit on the end of the al­ley, above the pins, and af­ter each player had his turn, this lad would jump down and put them back up.”

Crit­ics may say the tour­na­ment it­self was sim­i­larly lack­ing in en­ter­tain­ment, the 1962 fi­nals long since hav­ing be­come renowned in foot­ball folk­lore as the dirt­i­est of all time. The ‘Bat­tle of San­ti­ago’ clash was the law­less low­point, as David Cole­man made clear when fa­mously in­tro­duc­ing the high­lights on the BBC a cou­ple of days later with the words: “The game you are about to see is the most stupid, ap­palling, dis­gust­ing and dis­grace­ful ex­hi­bi­tion of foot­ball in the his­tory of the game.”

But this free-for-all in­volv­ing Italy and Chile was far from the ex­cep­tion with the open­ing two days of the World Cup bring­ing four red cards, three bro­ken legs, a frac­tured an­kle and a smat­ter­ing of cracked ribs.

Mat­ters barely im­proved af­ter such an in­aus­pi­cious start with the ref­eree forced to call the two cap­tains to­gether dur­ing the semi-fi­nal be­tween Cze­choslo­vakia and Yu­goslavia in an at­tempt to pre­vent a full-scale brawl.

Two red cards were also shown in the other last-four clash be­tween the hosts and Brazil. As for Eng­land, their matches were rel­a­tively free of vi­o­lence. Only one of that quar­tet, how­ever, was won, the sec­ond group game against Ar­gentina that brought Pea­cock his in­ter­na­tional de­but.

Hav­ing lost 2-1 to Hun­gary in front of a pal­try 7,938 crowd two days ear­lier, the Three Li­ons badly needed to take both points. Pea­cock helped them do just that, his goal­bound header bring­ing a bla­tant hand­ball from Ruben Navarro that Ron Flow­ers pun­ished from the penalty spot.

Charlton and then Greaves com­pleted a 3-1 win that, thanks to a goal­less bore draw against Bul­garia in the fi­nal group game, sent Eng­land through at Ar­gentina’s ex­pense.

Brazil awaited in the quar­ters and even though Pele was in­jured, Win­ter­bot­tom’s men were well beaten on an after­noon when Greaves found him­self the un­wit­ting vic­tim of a soak­ing from a pitch-in­vad­ing dog.

“I was re­ally up­set to miss Brazil through in­jury,” added the striker, who moved to El­land Road in 1964. “I had just got in the team and done well in the games against Ar­gentina and Bul­garia.

“Un­for­tu­nately, I pulled some­thing in my thigh so couldn’t play. I sat on the bench. Lit­er­ally, a bench, too, as the fa­cil­i­ties were quite ba­sic.

“The team lost and we were on our way home straight away, same route as be­fore via Florida and New York be­fore fly­ing back into London. And that was that for me in the World Cup. I missed out in 1966 through in­jury, even though Sir Alf (Ramsey) gave me as long as pos­si­ble to prove my fit­ness.”

Pea­cock’s mis­for­tune was Ge­off Hurst’s gain and the rest, as the phrase goes, is his­tory. Not that the Mid­dles­brough-born 80-year-old has any re­grets.

“I played in a World Cup for Eng­land and that is a spe­cial thing,” he adds. “I also got to travel the world. Mind, we didn’t see much of it. We didn’t. It was train­ing, matches, train­ing and noth­ing else. I al­ways say I went to loads of places as a foot­baller but never saw any of them.”

I played in a World Cup for Eng­land and that is a spe­cial thing. For­mer Leeds United and Mid­dles­brough striker Alan Pea­cock.

CUP BAT­TLE: English ref­eree Ken As­ton tries to bring or­der af­ter fight­ing broke out be­tween Ital­ian and Chilean play­ers dur­ing their group two match dubbed as “The Bat­tle of San­ti­ago”. Below, Eng­land’s Alan Pea­cock. PICTURES: GETTY IMAGES

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