The new international season would prove to be a pivotal one in the reign of Don Revie as England manager. The Three Lions were three points clear of Czechoslovakia at the top of the table, but had played a game more and faced their biggest rivals in a pivotal qualifier in a months time. It was crucial for England to build on the momentum they had built up with the 5-1 win over Scotland.
Things did not start well for Revie after his decision to not to select his captain, Alan Ball. The Arsenal man had been injured in pre-season but he was angered by his non selection for the squad for the friendly against Switzerland, particularly when he found out the news when his wife was asked by a journalist how Ball had reacted to being dropped. It was a sad end to the World Cup winners international career.
Gerry Francis took over as captain, with Tony Currie replacing Ball in the side. Unusually for a Revie side, that was the only change from the side which had beaten Scotland at Wembley to clinch the Home International title in May.
Coverage came in highlight form on BBC’s Sportsnight programme with David Coleman providing the commentary. England started well with Kevin Keegan opening the scoring on eight minutes. The Liverpool man had the chance to double the lead four minutes later when David Johnson was brought down in the penalty area. Keegan though saw his spot kick saved by the Swiss keeper Erich Burgener.
England though remained on the front foot and went 2-0 up on 19 minutes through Mick Channon. However, in what was to become a pattern over the season, an error by Ray Clemence allowed Switzerland to pull a goal back through Kurt Muller on the half hour.
From a position of domination, the goal rocked England’s confidence and they found themselves under real pressure for the final hour of the game. However they resisted what ever the Swiss could throw at them and held on for the win. As a preparotary game it was a useful exercise, because there would be little doubt that they would be under the cosh next time out. Focus now turned to Bratislava and the crucial qualifier against Czechoslovakia.