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SUPERMAC ON ENGLAND As well as being a living legend on Tyneside ‘Supermac’ did quite well for the National team you know. We caught up with him this month to ask him his thoughts on the National team now and his exploits in the Three Lions shirt! MEMORIES OF ENGLAND CALL UP & DEBUT? At the end of my first season at SJP all had gone fairly successfully, I had scored a lot of goals, only outscored by Franny Lee, of Man. City, who had 17 penalties added into his season’s total. I was fully expecting an International call-up from Alf Ramsay, the England manager, but for the U23 England side. I was 22 at the time and had quite a front running partnership going with Mick Channon over the previous 18 months in the Intermediate level. I queried why I had to travel to Cardiff to report for duty as the U23’s were going elsewhere in Europe. “This isn’t the U23s you are joining, it is the Full Squad”, I was informed. “Blimey”, I said. I’m afraid to say I said something a lot stronger when on the Friday, the day before the Home Internationals kicked off with Scotland v Northern Ireland to the north and England facing Wales at Ninian Park, when Alf told me I would be playing and partnering Rodney Marsh, with Mick Summerbee on the wing. I had watched the skills and talents of the mercurial Rodney Marsh from the terraces of Craven Cottage as a teenager and was now to partner him, amazing! We won 4-0 and I teed up Rodney for his goal. YOU SCORED 5 GOALS FOR ENGLAND V CYPRUS IN 1975 A RECORD THAT STILL STANDS TODAY? HOW PROUD ARE YOU OF THAT AND DID YOU THINK IT WOULD LAST SO LONG AT THE TIME? The Cyprus game will always be a very special memory, and I have the feeling the goal tally will stand as a Wembley record for a long time to come, though I don’t wish to tempt fate. It was a very special night, but from a footballing point of view the game I will hold just as dear was the previous England game, played at Wembley, and against the West Germany side playing their first match since winning the 1974 World Cup Final. Franz Beckenbauer led his men out in their change strip of green and got thoroughly outplayed by a superb England performance. Colin Bell scored the first midway through the first half and we took the game over from there. I scored with 15 minutes to go to make it 2-0, from a superb Alan Ball right wing cross to the far post. A few of our lads invited the Germans to join us at a London night-spot where we all talked football until the small hours. Sitting there with Bobby Moore and Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier and Alan Ball et al., all chatting about the magical game of football is one night I shall never forget. DID YOU PLAY MANY GAMES OVER IN THE OLD SOVIET COUNTRIES AND IF SO WHAT WAS THE LASTING MEMORIES OF THESE PLACES? 19 My time with England seemed to be nothing but summer trips behind the Iron Curtain. In 4 summers I went to, and played in, East Germany (twice), Russia, Yugoslavia (3 times), Poland, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia (twice). In the Seventies the other side of the Iron Curtain was a time of austerity, fear, poverty but some brilliant football and footballers. Make no mistake; their skills are worked from tiny tots up. “If you have a talent use it to the full, it is your only passport out of hell”. That was the work ethic described to me by one of the Yugoslavian team, thus they work at it relentlessly. We haven’t been doing that in this country for a long time now. YOUR VIEWS ON CURRENT ENGLAND SET UP? I have felt for a few years now that England seems to do their utmost to beat themselves. Roy Hodgson isn’t exactly spoilt for choice from the English contingent in the Premiership, and at that level you cannot, nay, must not make a solitary mistake, and because of that too many England players are nervous on the pitch, rather than having that supreme belief in themselves whereby a mistake is simply out of the question. Words: Malcolm MacDonald Photo: Singe Vert Photography