The World Cup Alphabet – D is for…



In 1962 the World Cup was held in Chile and was not the most memorable tournament. Pele was injured early while a lot of games were marred by violent tackles on the pitch that resulted in the introduction of yellow and red cards. There had also been a recent earthquake which had decimated the country and drawn the focus of a government on the nose.

Still, the tournament did have the ‘Little Bird’ Garrincha playing for Brazil. When the bow legged legend was bamboozling England in a quarter final a stray dog decided to enter the field of play. Players and officials tried chasing the dog with the elusive sidestep of Daniel Arzani but to no avail. England and Tottenham striker Jimmy Greaves finally got hold of the pooch when getting on his hands and knees and calmly called the dog over.

After picking up the dog Greaves was urinated on by the captured canine and seeing as there were no spare strips had to play on with a piss stained England shirt. Something perhaps other home countries like Scotland would have loved to have seen. Brazil would win 3-1 and go on to back to back titles by beating Czechoslovakia in the final.

Following the tournament, Brazil took the dog back home and raffled it off amongst the players.  Garrincha won the raffle and named the dog Bi, short for bicampeonato (two time championship) in homage to Brazil’s back to back World Cup triumph. The dog returned with Garrincha to his hometown of Pau Grande in Rio de Janeiro. Bi had effectively won the World Cup.

For the following World Cup there would be another heroic dog related mishap involving England.

In March 1966 the Brazilian FA (The CBF) handed the Jules Rimet Trophy to England in preparation for the  World Cup to be held in the Northern summer. The famous cup was displayed at a special exhibition in Westminster as part of a Stan Gibbons organised ‘Sport with stamps’ exhibition.

While a church service was on in another part of the building thieves managed to sneak past at least two guards and steal the trophy. The sad part was that the trophy was in fact worth between 10k to 30k whilst around the hall stamps worth millions of pounds had been left untouched.

FIFA blamed the English FA and after eventual prodding the hosts admitted that “we are responsible in the end because we are the organising association”. The CBF also spat the dummy at the organisers with claims that it was ‘sacrilege’ and that thieves in their crime ridden country wouldn’t steal the trophy because they’re all football fans.

For a week there was much hand wringing as the trophy had not been found. Police were claiming that a suspect had ‘thin lips, greased hair and a scar on his face’ which sounded like a vaudeville villain from the 1920s or a Beano comic. Someone had sent a ransom note claiming to contain part of the cup, due a police bungle an exchange apparently wasn’t made.

The FA had a contingency plan going to a silversmith and using the same gold as the original, having a fake made up to save face and hope no one would notice. The public also had their theories. One had claimed that his clock had told him it was in Wexford, Ireland.

The trophy was eventually found a week later near Croydon, South London. David Corbett was walking his mongrel ‘Pickles’ along a quiet suburban street when the dog saw something of interest in the garden and started digging. What the dog found was the actual trophy in a shallow hole in a flowerbed where it had been dumped or hidden with a huge sigh of relief being heard around Lancaster Gate.

Before Geoff Hurst was ever a hero in 1966 Pickles was. The dog would appear in the film ‘The Spy with the Cold Nose’ as well as Blue Peter and other notable shows. Spillers Dog Food gave him a year’s supply and he was made ‘Dog of the Year’. The dog even had the same booking agent as Spike Milligan.

After appearing with the victorious team on a hotel balcony (and being picked up by Bobby Charlton to wave to the crowd no less), Pickles was allowed to lick the dishes following the celebration banquet for the team. While a dog was welcome at the banquet the wives and Corbett were not being made to eat downstairs.

Conspiracies abound about the theft but one strong story was that former soldier Edward Bletchley (the one arrested for trying to ask for a ransom) did in fact steal the trophy. Apparently Bletchley had been arrested before but wasn’t a big time criminal apparently being judged to perhaps be an in-between for someone higher up.


It is also thought that the cup was cursed with Pickles tragically choking to death on his own lead whilst chasing a cat the following year. His collar is on display in a museum in Manchester. Even the head of the FA, Joe Mears, had died before the trophy had even been won by England. Mears had died from a heart attack that was put down to stress from organising the tournament and the furore surrounding the stolen trophy.

Brazil couldn’t even stand by their claim that thieves in their country wouldn’t steal the trophy. The cup, given to Brazil permanently in 1970 for winning three times, was stolen from the CBF HQ in Rio in 1983 and was never recovered. It was presumed that it was melted down.



For a country of only 17,000,000 or so the Netherlands has left an indelible mark on the World Cup and Australian Football.

They would only make the 1934 and 1938 World Cups before the Second World War where, obviously, they were little bit occupied with other things. Even for a couple of decades after the war they were middling until the mid 60s where ‘Total Football’ would enter the lexicon of the football world and never leave.

The concept of ‘total football’ was for all outfield players in all positions to be able to switch and play in any position. It was developed by Rinus Michels (after learning it from Englishman Jack Reynolds) when he was coach at Ajax and from 1965 to 1973 they managed to win 5 titles and went through two seasons without dropping a point at home. Ajax also won three European Cups in a row using the tactic with many seeing it as the only way the ultra-defensive Italian tactic ‘Catenaccio’ could be stopped.

The Dutch side of the 1974 World Cup are one of the most memorable in the history of the sport. Led by the irrepressible Johan Cryuff and decked out in the Royal Oranje iconic doesn’t even describe the team. The Dutch had the long hair , hippy flair and the the skills to most definitely pay the bills. Cryuff was a magician and with his famous ‘Cryuff Turn’ it made him the best in the world in a post-Pele era as the international powerbase shifted back to Europe.

They were creating a new football sub-genre but luck would desert them in the final against West Germany. The Dutch would lead 1-0 with West Germany not even touching the ball. Eventually though they wilted as the hosts outlasted them to win a drought breaking World Cup in Munich. The Clockwork Oranje had been halted.

In 1978 and featuring many of the same stars they would be a force again but Cryuff boycotted the tournament. Cryuff claimed it was in protest about the military junta in charge of Argentina where the tournament would be held. Years later it emerged he had received death threats but that actual truth is still up for argument. The Dutch would lose that final again and this time in controversial circumstances again to the hosts.

Holland’s amazing start to the 1974 Final. A fine example of Cryuff’s brilliance and ‘Total Football’

After this other sides worked out Total Football and it faded away as the Dutch national side vanished,  failing to qualify for the 1982 and 1986 tournaments. Then in a flash they were back again with another awe inspiring side featuring many stars from the African immigrant communities that would become legends. Gullit, Rijkaard, Winter. They won Euro 1988 and were favourites for Italia 90’ but just never got going due to injuries and  infighting which would blight the team through history.

The side would be eliminated in the second round by eventual champs West Germany at the San Siro with Rijkaard sent off for spitting on Rudi Voller. The incident would see Rijkaard be referred to as ‘The Llama’ by press.

From here they always had the talent with clubs like Ajax and others having a coaching system that was second to none. In 1994 they went out in the quarter finals to Brazil. Brazil again denied them in 1998 but this time in the semi finals. Near enough always seemed to be good enough for the Dutch.

There was a step back again in 2002 as they somehow didn’t qualify for the tournament in Asia but would be back in 2006. The venue was Germany, the site of their famous 1974 heroics but they would again implode and go out in the second round.

They then made the final in 2010 with a team built on the ‘Feyenoord’ way of kicking anything that moves under Bert Van Marwijk. This was the opposite of the beautiful way of total football preached by clubs like Ajax. Once again they would fall agonisingly short with a late goal in extra time giving the win to Spain. In 2014 they would again fall just short with a third place and penalty shootout loss in the semis to Argentina. Forever and a day they would be bridesmaids.

In the past four years the Dutch have wilted. A culture of giving jobs to the boys have bled through to the national side who have missed out on the 2016 Euros and now the upcoming World Cup.

Dutch football has also had a massive influence on the sport in this country.

Brisbane Roar wear the orange due to the origins of their original club Holland Inala. The saviour of the Socceroos, Guus Hiddink, took Holland to the semis in 1998. Pim Verbeek, the controversial leader of our 2010 campaign is also from the land of canals and tulips. The FFA have tried to implement a Dutch system in to Australian Football with results that have been iffy at best. Can’t have them all.

Now we go to another World Cup with a Dutchman at the helm, our third in the past four tournaments. Van Marwijk will play to our strengths so it won’t be pretty to watch. He is of the ‘Feyenoord’ school of tactics that is for sure. It’s just a shame the Dutch themselves won’t be joining us in Russia. Their fans and talent will be missed.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Dilettante. Traffic Nerd. Behind the Almanac World Cup 100. Keen Cat, Cardie, Socceroo/Matilda, Glory Bhoy.

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