We use cookies to provide essential features and services. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies .


Warehouse Stock Clearance Sale

Grab a bargain today!

Trailing Clouds of Glory - Welsh Football's Forgotten Heroes of 1976


Product Description
Product Details

Table of Contents

Foreword Author acknowledgements Introduction 1 Bowen nowhere 2 As straightforward and uncomplicated as his own name 3 The quiet revolution 4 Belt up, you baby! 5 See Budapest and Dai 6 Passport to success? 7 The team to beat 8 A day at the Racecourse 9 100 years and coasting 10 40-Second Street 11 Arsenal line up Smith 12 Ninian opinion 13 One team qualified and one team didn't Notes Bibliography


Trailing Clouds of Glory - Welsh football's forgotten heroes of 1976 is an attempt to shine some light on a little-known slice of Welsh football history from the mid 1970s. It details the two-year period during which Wales went from ending up with the wooden spoon in the Home International tournament for four years in a row to being 1976 European quarter-finalists, within an ace of reaching the semi-finals of the continent's top international competition. Many remain oblivious to the feat of manager Mike Smith's squad, and with the passing of time their achievement becomes more distant and forgotten. For a country that has achieved so little on the field of play, why is this particular group not more celebrated? Nick Burnell attempts to put that right, having researched the topic meticulously in press archives and player and coach biographies, as well as personally interviewing many of the key figures on the team and coaching staff. The book includes background on the period before qualification started in 1974, a blow-by-blow account of all the matches involved (detailed by contemporary newspaper write-ups and the author's own interviews with key figures in the campaign) and examination of the fallout from its controversial ending. It also incorporates a 'Where are they now?' angle, giving further details on the players involved. The book runs more or less chronologically, focusing primarily on the eight core qualifying games, but is also conceived as a respectful overview of the 1970s in Welsh football generally, and a somewhat irreverent look at what was happening around the sport. This is a glimpse back into a less complicated era, before the onset of 24-hour saturation coverage and millionaire journeymen players, when footballers looked to the future by doing their coaching badges or searching for local pubs that needed new landlords. It's a reminder of the players and people in and around the scene who restored pride in the Welsh football jersey and gave the football public of Wales a reason to believe. Squad members: Terry Yorath John Toshack Leighton James Leighton Phillips John 'Josh' Mahoney Arfon Griffiths Brian Flynn Alan Curtis Carl Harris Dave Roberts Dave Smallman Dai Davies Derek Showers Gary Sprake Gil Reece Joey Jones John Phillips John Roberts Les Cartwright Malcolm (Mal) Page Mike England Phil Roberts Rod Thomas -- Publisher: Y Lolfa
In December 1958, my late uncle took me to my first game at the Vetch Field, Swansea. The opponents were Sheffield Wednesday, and the match was won 4-0 by the Swans. Six months earlier the Welsh football team, having qualified, albeit by default, because of a complicated situation regarding the participation of Israel, participated in the 1958 World Cup finals, played in Sweden. Wales eventually lost in the quarter finals to a goal by some unknown Brazilian, a 17-year-old youngster called Pele. I, and most of the general public, I suspect, were unaware of this tournament, as indeed were the railway porters and ticket collectors at Swansea railway station who greeted Mel Charles and some of the other players on their return from Stockholm, thinking they were returning from a holiday! These were the days before the wall-to-wall coverage of football on SKY Sports. When Wales qualified for the 2016 UEFA Euro tournament, reaching its semi-final, the press and television largely reported that this was the first time Wales had qualified for any major tournament since 1958. They had been agonisingly close several times, only to fall at the final hurdle, missing crucial penalties or losing out on goal difference or in play-offs. However, in 1976 Wales enjoyed some real success when they topped their qualifying Euro group and earned a two-legged play-off with host nation Yugoslavia for a place in the finals, having seen off Austria, Hungary and Luxembourg, and winning five qualifying matches in succession. The team, managed by Englishman Mike Smith has not, according to the author of this book, received the recognition it deserves, and the purpose of this book is to acknowledge the considerable achievement of this talented squad, who finally bowed out of the tournament after a niggly second-leg draw at Cardiff, having lost the first leg in Zagreb. At Cardiff, Wales missed a penalty, hit the post, and had two goals disallowed, and succumbed to a dubious penalty kick awarded by a somewhat controversial East German referee. Had VAR (the video assistant referee) been in operation at that time, the result might well have been very different. This book is meticulously researched and is very well-written. It takes us back to an era when the Football Association of Wales was not the efficient organisation it is today. This was also the era when League managers held more sway, and would constantly refuse to release players to play for their country. The introduction of the 'international break' has largely ended that practice. This was the period when the English FA refused to play our national anthem at Wembley, when hooliganism was rife, when our playing stadia were grim and attendances low, and when rugby reigned supreme in Wales. However, the contribution made by Mike Smith in laying the foundations of the current international set-up cannot be underestimated and was described by Dai Davies, the Welsh goalkeeper, as 'revolutionary'. Under the guidance of this graduate PE teacher, the Welsh team that performed so well in 1974-76 in reaching the latter stages of a major tournament included a number of players who remain household names - players such as John Toshack, Terry Yorath, John Mahoney and the mercurial Leighton James. The achievement was even more remarkable when considered that England failed to qualify. As an innovator and excellent man-manager, Smith moulded his motley squad into a formidable team, which included for the first time a number of so-called Anglos, who had been drafted in because of a rule change allowing English-born players with a Welsh parent to be eligible to represent Wales. This gave the squad greater depth with the addition of personnel such as Ian Evans and Dave Roberts. The narrative also gives us a flavour of other events during this period so as to place all matches in their historical context. This aspect deals with such issues as broadcasting, fashion, politics and pop music, which adds an interesting and valuable dimension to the book. With Wales having qualified for the 2020 Euro tournament as runners-up in a group which included familiar opponents from 1976 such as Croatia (from the former Yugoslavia) and Hungary, there is a little feeling of deja vu. This was no mean achievement which surely owes much to the foundations so carefully laid by Mike Smith. He and the 1976 team are all deserving of this volume which all Welsh football fans will enjoy, whilst looking forward to the exciting challenge of our next Euro finals in June 2020. -- Richard E. Huws @ www.gwales.com

Ask a Question About this Product More...
Look for similar items by category
This title is unavailable for purchase as none of our regular suppliers have stock available. If you are the publisher, author or distributor for this item, please visit this link.
Back to top