After the enthusiasm which had surrounded Don Revie’s new look England team after the win over Czechoslavakia, the goalless draw at home to Portugal had sucked away some of the new found optimism. With the next two qualifiers coming up against the minnows of the group, Cyprus, it was vital that England entered those games with confidence. Therefore a friendly match against the World Champions, West Germany, was hardly the ideal fixture. However on a filthy night at Wembley Stadium, Revie’s men produced a display which raised the spirits and saw them become the first team to dethrone the World Cup winners.
With Leeds United and Ipswich locked in a titanic FA Cup struggle, England had three debutants on the night, Leicester City’s Steve Whitworth at right back, Ian Gillard of QPR at left back and the maverick midfield talents of Alan Hudson. Alan Ball was recalled as skipper whilst Malcolm Macdonald started up front. The West German side was an experimental one, although Sepp Maier, Berti Vogts and Franz Beckenbauer all featured at the back.
Highlights of the match were broadcast on ITV with Brian Moore and Sir Alf Ramsey in the commentary box. The pitch was in horrendous condition with heavy rain causing the field to cut up almost immediately
England took the lead on 25 minutes through Colin Bell. A free kick from the right hand side was lifted towards the penalty spot where Bell met it on the volley, the ball taking a deflection which completely wrongfooted Maier in the German goal.
England were enjoying being in the ascendency and Kevin Keegan was having a fine game. A surging run by the Liverpool man saw the ball eventually find Malcolm Macdonald who forced Maier into a good save. Macdonald was causing the German back line some real problems and curled another effort over the cross bar.
It wasnt all England though and Ray Clemence was forced into a fine save to deny Rainer Bonhoff, diving at full stretch to stop a shot from the edge of the area, the England defence reacting well to scramble the ball away.
Bell went close to a second for England with a low skidding effort which was handled impeccably by Maier in the difficult conditions. Moments later he proved how difficult it was to deal with the slippy ball, spilling an effort into the path of Bell who could just not connect with the rebound.
England’s decisive second came on 65 minutes. Mick Channon had put in some sterling work down the channels and from the right hand side delivered a deep cross to the back post which was met by an imperious header by “Supermac”.
England enjoyed the last 25 minutes, at times putting together some impressive periods of keep ball to hold the West Germans at bay. The final whistle brought England their first victory over the Germans since that memorable July day almost nine years earlier. It was a great way to celebrate the 100th international at Wembley.