Johnny's Story

Sunday 27 December 2015 08:00

In 1962, Fulham’s most famous son penned his footballing story so far. It’s All In The Game sees Johnny Haynes regale readers with tales from his career, told at the height of his fame as England captain, and each week on we’ll be serialising his words. This is Johnny’s Story.

Chapter Fifteen – South America, 1959 (cont.)

We were rather upset just before we went on the field. Someone turned up with a newspaper which carried the story that Colin McDonald (pictured) of Burnley, our World Cup goalkeeper, was seriously ill. The crowd at this match seemed immense. In Rio they never return attendances for the matches, only receipts. Our game set record receipts and the estimated crowd was more than 150,000. When we walked out, the crowd in the top deck let off fire-crackers which streaked out and exploded over the pitch, which in turn seemed to be absolutely smothered in photographers. I never saw so many shutter-bugs in any one place in my whole life. I thought we would never get the match started, and I believe that before we came on there were performing dogs, a helicopter landing on the field and so on. No doubt some of the England players were rather frightened or nervous by all of this, but all I could think of was how we were ever going to start the game. There was oxygen in the dressing-room. I had some at half-time. Whether it was the oxygen itself or the fact that I had my feet up in the air as I took it, I never could decide but it seemed to relax me and I felt that I had kept battling through the match fairly well to the end. The atmosphere was very heavy and humid.

"Some of the lads were so determined to boast that they had swum at Copacabana that they went right out there and swam in the rain, but I didn’t."

The Brazilians played the same tactical system as they had employed in Sweden – 4-2-4. It was very successful defensively, but in Bellini the Brazilians had a very good centre-half and as in all these matters the players are more important than the system. The crowd was surprisingly fair. I am sure we all felt before the match that the crowd would tear us apart, but they were very impartial and actually hooted their own team for passages in the game. In our match against Brazil in Gothenburg they had not impressed me unduly and it was the same this time in Rio. They never approached the play they had shown in beating Sweden in the World Cup Final, which I saw on television. Ronnie Clayton in fact played Pele their wonder forward, very well. The England team seemed to me to fail on the wings. The problem was not really one of selection, but of players playing below their known form. We lost possession of the ball time after time on the wings and it was a fault that persisted throughout the entire tour.

The Press were reasonably good on the match. Indeed, the reports of the matches throughout the tour were the least of our worries with the Press. They all felt that we had played hard and fairly well, had not been outclassed and that a 2-0 defeat was not too bad against the World Champions on their own ground. It was their reporting of our activities off the field that gave us some second thoughts. According to some papers we spent all day lying on Copacabana beach. In fact I never did get there. We pestered Walter Winterbottom from the moment we arrived to let us swim there but he forbade it until the day after the match when we would be completely free. And that day it poured with rain! Some of the lads were so determined to boast that they had swum at Copacabana that they went right out there and swam in the rain, but I didn’t. On these tours, save for the day after the match, we spend all our time together as a group – eating together, working and training together. We never hit that beach together, I can tell you.

We were let off the chain after the match and saw something of Rio by night for the first time. Bobby Charlton, Norman Deeley, Peter Broadbent, Derek Kevan and myself were in one group. Deeley was the team wit on this tour. Although he is a little fellow, he is always game for anything. Derek Kevan too can be amusing when he is on the subject of the Press. Wilf McGuinness was the dapper one, all Italian suits and shoes, and Jimmy Armfield, for a boy who has strong religious beliefs and interests, was surprisingly lively. The other boys, most of them married, were on the whole quieter.

It's All In The Game was published by Arthur Baker Limited.

If you missed our special video featuring George Cohen, Tosh Chamberlain and Fred Callaghan sharing their memories of their teammate and friend Johnny Haynes, then have a watch below.

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