England’s Absence: USA ’94

Kevin Hoggard

The World Series of Soccer took place in the good ole U.S. of A.  I haven’t got a clue what happened as I didn’t watch it.

Manager Graham Taylor guided us through a disastrous qualifying campaign.  He would resign shortly after we realised that the summer of ’94 would be spent gardening and working on our tan.  (Ed. Note: Kevin is obviously having a laugh. Every scientist will tell you the English don’t tan.)

Taylor was cast as a pariah in the English papers.  They delighted in using bad pre-Photoshop techniques to show him as a turnip on the front page of The Sun, such was their disdain for the man.

Our qualifying campaign boiled down to a trip to Rotterdam, needing at least a draw.  With the tie in the balance in the second half, David Platt was through on goal.  Ronald Koeman would catch him and hack him down on the edge of the penalty box. Then the German referee made a huge mistake. Karl-Josef Assenmacher called the foul and gave England a free kick just outside the box.  But if Koeman had committed a professional foul, it should have been a straight red.  Instead, Koeman was booked and the Dutchman remained on the pitch.

Just two minutes later the Oranje earned a free kick, and who takes it? Koeman.  The first shot was charged down.  The referee ordered a re-take.  The second attempt was immortalised for me by our commentator, I think it was John Motson.  As Koeman sized up the situation, Motty said, “He’s gonna clip it, he’s gonna clip it!”  Everybody could see it… everybody except for our goalkeeper.  The man who should not have been on the pitch clipped the ball over the wall and into the net.

Merson would hit the crossbar but then Bergkamp would seal our fate with a second goal.  Sickness enveloped my heart.

We still had a ridiculously outside chance of qualifying.  If Holland lost in Poland and we beat San Marino by a bucket load of goals we could still go through.  Hope springs eternal.

That hope lasted 8.3 seconds.  The fastest ever goal in a World Cup qualifier was scored by a computer salesman.  England found themselves 1-0 down to San Marino quicker than my experiment with baby oil, Baywatch and a box of tissues. 

In their previous 9 games San Marino had scored ONE goal and conceded 35.  It would take us 20 minutes to get back on level terms.  England went on to eventually win the game 7-1 but Holland had triumphed 3-1 in Poland.

So I spent the summer fastidiously avoiding the television.  Not wanting to watch a grand spectacle that we were not a part of. 

Do I not like that.

Brevity is the soul of wit so ‘nuff said. Kevin still watches Baywatch on YouTube and gets tears in his eyes.

Up Next: England’s Pride Suffers, as the Lion becomes a Goat.

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