By David Owen
January 3 – Today marks the 50th anniversary of a very odd football match at Wembley Stadium.
Reported at the time as the Three versus the Six, it actually pitted a team of international players from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Denmark against a side from France, Belgium, West Germany, Italy and the Netherlands; ie, the Five versus the Five, or so you might say.
In spite of the foggy start to the year in the London region, and the lack of silverware – or anything much else – hanging on the outcome, the roll-call of stars was sufficient to draw a crowd of 36,500 to the world-famous venue.
With three of England’s World Cup-winners from 1966 taking on a whole bunch of those who would contest the following year’s West Germany v Holland World Cup final, you might argue that this was the very least the confrontation demanded.
Nevertheless, in an era when even the top club sides still mainly consisted of players of the same nationality as the club, such multinational line-ups were a real curiosity.
What can have explained such a novel division of forces? In a word: politics. January 1, 1973 marked a momentous day for Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and Denmark – ‘the Three’ in terms of the nomenclature of this one-off match. It brought their accession into the European Economic Community (EEC), the European Union (EU), as it eventually became.
The game – pitting a squad of players from these three new member-states against a squad from the six existing members (albeit little Luxemburg went unrepresented) – was part of a days-long celebration of this historic step.
In Great Britain, then led by Ted Heath, the music-loving Conservative Prime Minister, this succession of events was bracketed under the general heading of the ‘Fanfare for Europe’. Events included a concert by the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra at Coventry Cathedral; a London-to-Brussels veteran/vintage car rally…
Source link : https://www.insideworldfootball.com/2023/01/03/three-versus-six-politics-brought-charlton-beckenbauer-back-wembley-50-years-ago/
Author : Paul Nicholson
Publish date : 2023-01-03 12:23:34
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