CZECHOSLOVAKIA 1 ENGLAND 1 International Friendly The Sparta Letna Stadium, Prague 27th May 1973

England started their preparation for their pivotal World Cup qualifier with a poor display in this friendly international.

It’s difficult to imagine an international fixture being played without any TV coverage whatsoever these days, but this game was not broadcast, even in highlight form, on British television. That may have been a blessing for Sir Alf Ramsey, who was by now under intense pressure with speculation mounting of an impending sacking.

The World Cup winning manager was bringing the pressure on himself with some increasingly baffling selections. Already playing Peter Storey out of position at right back, Ramsey made the strange choice to field him at left back in Prague, and bringing Paul Madeley into the side at right back. Madeley was renowned for his ability to slot into any position in the Leeds United side, earning the moniker “the 11 Pauls” in the club song “Leeds United” and would have been the more sensible option.

Madeley did make a telling contribution to the game, creating his club colleague Alan Clarke’s last gasp equaliser as England, in unfamiliar yellow shirts, struggled against the home side. The display saw Ramsey tell the press after the game “I could not see us getting a goal back. Nothing went right for us. But we didn’t play well.” He was also prescient in stating that “We must make considerable improvement against Poland.” It was a wish that was not fulfilled.

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