April 30 – Sir Alf Sacked

FOOTBALL, as we all know is a fickle game. One moment you can be on top of the world, the next down and out. Today in 1974 it was the turn of Sir Alf Ramsey to hit rock bottom, as the FA sacked the man who had brought the World Cup home.

Since Bobby Moore lifted the Jules Rimet trophy in 1966, Sir Alf didn’t have the best of times with the national side. The Auld Enemy ensured that any world champion bragging rights were ended when Scotland defeated the Three Lions 3-2 at Wembley in 1967 and a mixture of injured goalies, stolen bracelets and German efficiency put paid to any hopes of defending their crown in Mexico in 1970.

The Ramsey regime was starting to look a little shaky by the time the 1974 World Cup qualification campaign took place. England limped their way to a last-game showdown with Poland in October 1973, where only a win would be enough for them to book their place at the big show.

As we’ve previously told you, Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomawzewski had a career-defining match, and the Ramsey Out! campaign got into full swing.

The seeds of Ramsey’s departure however, had been planted long before that fateful night at Wembley. Sir Alf had annoyed the old school elements of the FA by abolishing the archaic International Selection Committee when he took charge, giving him more power in the role than any of his predecessors.

During his ten-year spell in the job Ramsey had also developed a bad relationship with the press, especially after the ‘animals’ incident against Argentina in the 1966 World Cup. This, coupled with his perpetually solemn demeanour, didn’t make him too many friends amongst his bosses, with FA vice-Chairman Sir Harold Thompson particularly having it in for him.

Thompson had written a confidential report on the future of the England team in 1972 that slagged Ramsey off and he was at it again in February 1974, when he convened a five-man FA subcommittee “to consider our future policy in respect of the promotion of international football.” This was a nice way of saying ‘thanks for the memories Sir Alf.’

After he received the boot Sir Alf had admiring glances thrown his way from the likes of Athletic Bilbao, Ajax and Aston Villa, but didn’t return to football until January 1976, when he joined the Birmingham board, but by after a couple of years he left and was done with football. He spent the rest of his days in Ipswich, where he died in 1998.

Here at OTFD we feel sorry for the man who delivered England’s only major trophy, so we’ll show some cracking Pathe footage of the famous day in the sun at Wembley in 1966. Enjoy that, and come on over tomorrow for more reminiscing.

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