Sunday, 24 January 2010

Memory Lane

With the 6 Nations squads now announced the hype, build-up and anticipation can now begin in earnest. Every year it is the same - eager expectations leading up to the tournament, expectations in recent years built on faith and hope rather than on any logical reasoning, followed by feelings of being horribly let down once the England team actually start playing.

Twas ever thus and was especially so during the dark days of the 1980s. Then, like now, I would approach each February with huge enthusiasm and hopelessly unrealistic optimism. And then, like now, I would reach March with an an air of apathetic disillusionment once England had revealed their true colours.

After the glorious Grand Slam of 1980 the England team deteriorated pretty rapidly as the likes of Beaumont, Uttley, Neary and Cotton reached the end of their careers to be replaced by inferior models. Analogies with the 2003 World Cup team are easy to draw.

The decade that followed the 1980 Grand Slam saw a series of awful 5 Nations displays and some fairly forgettable players don the white shirt of England. Does anyone recall the likes of Graham Robbins, Dave Cusani, Steve Boyle or Bob Hesford? No? Exactly. And they were just the forwards.

Thrashed regularly by France and beaten habitually by Wales, there are two performances in particular that I recall that sum up England's efforts in the eighties: the humiliation of watching Scotland run amok at Murrayfield in 1986 as they eased to a 33-6 victory, a day we made the Sweaties look like world-beaters; and an abject performance in Dublin in 1987, a match in which we rarely looked like achieving competence (let alone troubling the scoresheet) as we sank to a 0-17 defeat in the opening match of the tournament.

It comes to something when the highlight of a decade at Twickenham was probably Erica Roe's topless streak in 1982 but there was also the occasional shaft of light (rugby-wise) - Chris Oti's hat-trick at HQ against Ireland in 1988 to a chorus of 'Swing Low' as we won 35-6 springs to mind, and the eighties also saw the emergence of future warriors in the shape of Brian Moore, Wade Dooley, Dean Richards, Mick Skinner and the magnificent Peter Winterbottom, all of whom would go on to serve their country with distinction in the 1990s.

But that, as they say, is another story...


Nursedude said...

Real endangered species(See Victoria Beckham) just like the rugby jersey with a real collar.

Anonymous said...

I always felt sorry for Sarah Bennett she was Erica Roes best friend who streaked at the same time...unforetunately her smaller erm 'profile' has meant the media didn't really pick up on her and her equally thrilling dash has been all but forgotten.