Wales travel to play England at Wembley Stadium tonight – 40 years after one of the greatest matches in Welsh international football history. Mike England was the Wales manager on May 17, 1980 and had charge of a Wales team packed with experience and talent in the shape of players like Dai Davies, Joey Jones, Brian Flynn, Mickey Thomas Leighton James, plus the youth of Ian Walsh and David Giles. What followed was extraordinary, as Terry Phillips recalls.
It was the day England defeated England – and every Welsh football supporter celebrated in style after a 4-1 success for their team.
Former Totenham centre-half Mike England was the new Wales manager and his first match in charge was against Ron Greenwood’s England at the Racecourse, Wrexham.
“It was an incredible game,” Mike tells S4C’s Sgorio. “I flew in from Seattle and got the Wales job. I was so thrilled.
“My first game was against England and what a start, winning 4-1. The whole of Wales was rejoicing.
“I will never forget a television chat I did before the game where the interviewer was talking as if it was an honour for Wales even to be sharing the same pitch as England.
“I had to explain to him that most of my players played in the top division in England, that they played against each other every week and there was no way my team would be overawed.
“I suggested that there was a lack of respect being shown, which I thought wasn’t very sporting and that we were not there as sitting ducks.”
The four-goal victory was a satisfying result for England, who found an unusual way of celebrating.
“After the game Doug Livermore and I went for a Chinese takeaway,” he said. “We went back to my mum and dad’s house in Prestatyn. Doug slept on a mat in front of the fire, while I had a little bedroom.
“We had beaten England. What a day. Wonderful. You remember certain days in your career and that is certainly one for me.”
The newly appointed Wales boss had been playing for Seattle Sounders in the USA before heading home to Wales and ex-Cardiff City midfield player Doug Livermore was appointed his assistant for the national team.
— Football Back Then ⚽️🏐⚽️ (@FootballThen) October 6, 2020
Powerful defender England, now aged 78, spent nine years playing for Spurs, making almost 400 appearances. He helped Tottenham win an FA Cup, two League Cups and the Uefa Cup.
He then played in the North American Soccer League and was named in the NASL Best XI four times. When England returned to Wales in 1980 his three children and four grandchildren stayed in North America.
The England team arrived in Wrexham during 1980 having defeated World Cup holders Argentina at Wembley Stadium four days earlier.
Paul Mariner put Greenwood’s men in front before Mickey Thomas, Leighton James, Ian Walsh and Phil Thompson (own goal) replied for Wales in front of almost 25,000 spectators.
“It was a great opening to Mike’s reign as manager,” said full-back Joey Jones. “He was so positive as soon as he took over.
“A great atmosphere and the crowd loved it. It was one match that I’ll never forget. We thoroughly deserved the win.
“The stand out thing for me was that I was playing against a lot of my former Liverpool teammates. To play against them and beat them was great.”
Former Wrexham and Wales goalkeeper Dai Davies said: “We weren’t the most consistent of sides and that was down to the small nature of our squad.
“While we were confident in our ability, there was a bit of disbelief among some of the Welsh public.
“To be honest, we weren’t really surprised as we didn’t think that England were a particularly good team and we were at home.
“They had a few weaknesses in their side and before the game Mike England had earmarked Larry Lloyd, who turned slower than the Queen Mary.”
— Retro Cymru – Wales ⚽️🏴 (@RetroFAWales) September 4, 2018
Terry Yorath felt it could be Wales’ day when he chatted to England’s Larry Lloyd before kick-off. The two men had been teammates at Coventry City, while Lloyd was, at that stage, part of Brian Clough’s European Cup-winning Nottingham Forest team.
“It was a glorious day, the pitch looked in good condition,” said Yorath. “Larry was full of confidence and said ‘I think I’ll wear my rubbers today’.
‘I was delighted to hear that because to defend in those days in rubbers was unheard of.”
Bristol-born Lloyd, who won 11 major trophies playing for Liverpool and Forest, had made a disastrous decision over his footwear, scarcely able to find grip on the excellent Racecourse surface.
The result was a resounding Wales win.
Aged 72. Goalkeeper who made 52 appearances for Wales, played for Everton, Wrexham, Tranmere and Swansea.
Davies is a Druid, having been initiated into the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards in 1978.
Aged 66. Went into property development after retiring from football before moving to Australia where he became manager of Western Knights in Perth, Australia in 2008, later taking charge of Sorrento and Armadale.
Aged 68. Playing career ended when he suffered ligament damage playing for Wales during the 4-1 win against England. Played for Bournemouth, Nottingham Forest and Norwich. Former Cardiff City defender Keith Pontin, who passed away earlier this year, went on for Jones after half-time.
Aged 60. Newport-born, capped 73 times at senior level for Wales between 1979 and 1991.
Managed Barry Town and Llanelli to League of Wales titles and Newport County when they won the FAW Premier Cup.
Aged 65. Wrexham-born Jones helped boyhood heroes Liverpool win the European Cup twice. Won the Welsh Cup with home town club Wrexham in 1975.
Now aged 67. Born Loughor, Swansea. After retiring, became a media pundit and Scarlets’ rugby union fan.
Aged 64. Born Port Talbot. Earned 66 Welsh senior caps, played for Wrexham and Swansea.
Aged 70. Grangetown-born Yorath played for Swansea City, while he later became manager of the Swans, Cardiff City and Wales.
Aged 66. Played for Manchester United, earned more than 50 caps for Wales. Media pundit for Manchester United and after-dinner speaker.
Aged 62. Cardiff-born, played for the Bluebirds and Swansea City. Now a media pundit, mainly for the BBC.
Aged 63. Played in the Football League for home city club Cardiff City, Wrexham, Swansea City and Newport County. A rare feat. Became a South Wales Echo columnist and later a pundit for Real Radio in South Wales.
Aged 72. Won First Division titles five times at Liverpool plus the European Cup (3), Uefa Cup (2) and FA Cup. Also won the FA Cup and FA Charity Shield with Spurs.
Aged 69. Had a short spell as Cardiff City manager in 1996 before moving to Manchester City. Replaced by substitute Kenny Sansom after 20 minutes v Wales.
Aged 66. Won an abundance of titles with Liverpool, later became assistant to Gerard Houllier at Anfield.
Aged 71. Earned European success with Bill Shankly’s Liverpool and Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest. Managed Wigan Athletic before running a pub. Lives in Spain and manages amateur club Real Marbella. Replaced by substitute Ray Wilkins with 10 minutes left.
Passed away in April this year, aged 72. After retiring from football, was successful in travel, property and ran a five-a-side football centre.
Aged 62. Went on to become England manager, having won more than 50 caps for his country. Also managed Swindon, Chelsea, Southampton, Spurs and Wolves before setting up a football academy in Spain.
Now aged 72. Played most of his career for West Ham and had a brief spell as Hammers’ caretaker-manager.
Now aged 69. Lives a quiet life in the North East, raising funds for Parkinson’s disease.
Now aged 65. Managed Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Reading after ending his playing career.
Now aged 67. Bolton-born centre-forward who made 35 appearances for England.
Now aged 63. Played for Manchester City, moved to Kuala Lumpur to work as an English football pundit on Malaysian network, Astro.