Monday, November 27, 2023

Terry Venables and the summer of 1996

The first Chelsea game I can remember is the 1967 FA Cup Final, when we lost 2-1 to Spurs. Terry Venables, a former Chelsea favourite, was playing for our opponents.

Legend has it that he was in the habit of stopping the Chelsea team in the tunnel after the manager Tommy Docherty's team talk and countermand it with one of his own. Docherty tired of this, sold him and bought Charlie Cooke to be our playmaker instead.

But then his mother had told the Chelsea official who came to her house with a contract for the young Venables to sign that her boy would make a better manager than player, because he never stopped talking about the game.

Terry Venables' death has made me remember the summer of 1996. England's 4-1 group victory in the European team championship, which we hosted, is just about the finest performance by an England team that I have seen. Every time we attacked we looked like scoring.

England felt European that June. There were visiting supporters from 15 other countries (including Scotland), the sun shone and even we played sexy football.

Venables' charm was part of the attractive England package, and since he was forced out of the England job over his financial affairs - a Labour MP called Kate Hoey was among his most persistent critics - being an England fan has rarely felt as good

It's more evidence that as far as Britain was cool in the 1990s, it was cool under John Major rather than Tony Blair. Oh yes.

No comments: