Hubbard's Cupboard: Englishman who guided Sweden to football gold
Saturday 11 August 2012
With so many golden goals being scored elsewhere, tonight's football final between Brazil and Mexico has been somewhat overshadowed, but the tournament of 1948 turned out to be one of the highlights of those London Games.
Lord Coe originally approached Sir Alex Ferguson to manage the 2012 GB football team but the Manchester United boss declined. However, in 1948 one of his equally illustrious predecessors had no such qualms, Sir Matt Busby taking charge of a squad which included several Scottish players, among them goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson, later to be one of Celtic's Lisbon Lions, the first British team to win the European Cup in 1967.
One of Simpson's Olympic team-mates, Angus Carmichael, then of Queens Park, recalls: "Sir Matt was a nice guy but we didn't have any tactics as such. He just told us to go out and play our normal game."
That did not prove good enough. Britain struggled past the Netherlands and France before being eliminated by Yugoslavia.
But there was success for another British manager. George Raynor, a miner's son from Barnsley who had been a journeyman player and reserve team trainer at Aldershot. He guided the Swedish team to a 3-1 victory over Yugoslavia in the Wembley final, demolishing Korea 12-0 on the way.
Sweden featured three brothers, Bertil, Gunnar and Knut Nordahl. The most famous was Gunnar, then a fireman, who later played for Milan. He was involved in one of the most bizarre goals of all time in the semi-final against Denmark.
The centre-forward, he had stayed upfield as the Danes attacked. Realising he was going to be offside as his team counter-attacked he quick-wittedly leapt into the Danish goal to remove himself from the field and, inside the goal, he caught the scoring header of his team-mate. Like Busby and Ferguson, Raynor was knighted – although in his case by the King of Sweden.
Manchester United teased by Monaco after claims they could have signed 'Luis Suarez of Neymar' instead or £58m Anthony Martial
Former Manchester United star Karel Poborsky goes full hipster
Manchester United hit back at Real Madrid by claiming they let David De Gea 'slip through their fingers into the back of the net'
Premier League Power Rankings: Eden Hazard and Harry Kane continue to slip but Wayne Rooney has to perform against rivals
Serie B introduces 'green cards' to promote good behaviour, fair play and sportsmanship
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 4 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
- 5 Bryan Cranston speaks candidly about wealth
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be