1954 World Cup, held in Switzerland

The A to Z of the 1954 tournament...


Austria were still a team to be reckoned with, but were growing old. Their amazing comeback v Switzerland, and thrashing of the Czech's held them in good stead. They got battered though by West Germany in the semi's 6-1, with the Walter brothers, Franz and Ottmar scoring four between them. The Austrians did beat Uruguay 3-1 for 3rd place though.


Berne's fantastically named Wankdorf stadium was the setting for the final and one of the biggest shocks in the history of World Cup finals. With Puskas only half fit after his injury in their previous encounter, Hungary were half the team they could be. Still, they went 2-nil up in just 9 minutes, Puskas scoring the first. West Germany came back, and, incredibly, were level after 19 mins. The winner came with 5 mins remaining, and the Hungarian juggernaut was stopped.


'Clockwork' a nickname given to the dynamo Ernst Ocwirk by us English, because of his penalty box to penalty box runs. The last great attacking centre half, was Austria's captain, and best player by far. Fittingly scored the last goal in the 3rd place game, in the Wc's 100th finals game.


A free draw was the way the Quarter finals were decided for the knock-out stage. Group winners could play each other in this round, and the semi's. When will FIFA learn.


England got through there group as winners, but at the expense of Stan Matthews injured with a bruised toe, but was fit to play Uruguay. England lost 4-2, and the blame was put directly at keeper Merrick, who was to blame for 3 goals. He never played for his country again. England played well, but with an average age of 30, the players tired, and couldn't get back in the game.


First WC to be televised, and probably Hungary v Brazil was the first video nasty. Arthur Ellis was the ref, who had to send of someone for the first time for him in an international. In fact he sent off 3 players. There were stampings, players chasing each other, and fisticuffs galore. A free-for-all broke out as the teams left the pitch, with photographers attacking police, and Puskas supposedly splitting Pinheiro's head open, so Brazil retaliated by throwing glass into the Hungarian's changing room, after the lights went unexpectedly out. Oh Yeah! Hungary won 'The Battle of Berne' 4-2.


Groups for this WC were slightly different than before, FIFA cannot help but tinker. In each group there were 2 seeded teams, who would only play the non seeded teams. Any games level after 90 mins and extra-time, and the result would stand. Confusing and arbitrary.


Hungary were the first real strong favourites going into any WC, unbeaten in 28 games, since 1950, and Olympic champs. Top scorers in WC with 27( WC record), and an average per game of 5.4( a WC record), goal difference of +17. Also recorded the joint biggest winning margin in WC history 9-0 v Korea Rep. In there last warm up game before WC they beat England 7-1. A juggernaut of a team.


Injections of Vitamin C at half-time were presumed to have been given to the German team to boost their stamina, by a Soviet sports doctors needle. This is strongly denied by the team-mates, but does explain the jaundice looking players following the WC.


St Jakob stadium in Basle saw W Germany v Hungary, score 3-8. Who would have thought after this that Germany would win the WC. Herberger the German manager sent out a weakened team, learning how good Hungary were. Liebrich nobbled Puskas, who had to withdraw from this game, and the next 2. Liebrich was specially picked for this game, probably to do the dirty on Puskas. It succeeded.


Sandor Kocsis was top scorer for the WC with 11 goals in 5 games, and scored 2 or more goals in 4 consecutive games;still a record, and the first player to score 2 hat-tricks at a WC (consecutively). A legend at heading the ball, he had a neck so thick it looked deformed. 75 goals in 68 games. Awesome!!


The largest goal difference improvement in consecutive games goes to Turkey and West Germany. Turkey lost 1-4 v Germany, then beat Korea 7-0. W Germany lost 3-8 v Hungary(first team to lose a match and win WC), and beating Turkey 7-2. Turkey also have the unwanted distinction of the biggest drop in form in successive games; 7-0 win versus Korea, and then a 2-7 defeat versus West Germany.


Most goals scored in one game Austria v Switzerland 7-5, 5-4 at half time, and Austria were 0-3 down, never had a team come back from such a deficit. Also in this WC of goals came the highest scoring draw 4-4 England v Belgium aet. Poor old Hong Duk-Yung of Korea as let in the most goals at a WC tournament;16.


Nineteen 54, saw the 50th anniversary of FIFA, and were a better place to hold the tournament than in it's own backyard. Switzerland was chosen to be the hosts in 1946.


The Olympics in 1952 saw Hungary beat Korea 12-0, with poor Hong Duk-Yung of Korea in goal. In the 9-0 game, midfielder Chung Nam-Sik sat down exhausted, and Buzanszky gave him a leg massage


Ferenc Puskas and Kocsis scored 158 international goals between them. Puskas was the star of the team, and incomparable in his day. The Galloping Major( referring to his army rank,) was the most talented and inspirational leader, and knitted the team together. Half fit he nearly dragged his team to the trophy, with a disallowed goal given offside by the Welsh authoritarian official Mervyn Griffiths. 85 games, 84 goals says it all.


Qualifying consisted of 38 entries where 16 went to the finals. The Saar(state of Germany) entered, Turkey got to the finals on the toss of a coin v Spain after a play-off. Poland withdrew to send Hungary there.


Referees with the most amazing occupational names were Charlie Faultless (Scotland), and Paul Wyssling (Swiss.) Would have been great if there were an Arthur Side as linesman. But there wasn't !


Scotland made the trip to Switzerland for their first finals. Managed by their first national manager Andy Beattie they faced Austria;lost 1-0 and Beattie resigned. So they plied their next, and last game, versus holders Uruguay, and duly lost 7-0. Tommy Docherty the Scot defender says that Willie Cunningham captain and fullback got a 'sunburned tongue' trying to contain the irrepressible Schiaffino.


The German team became the only one to win the WC with amateur players (the German league was not professional until season 1963-4 ).


Uruguay finally lost a WC game after 24 years. They lost in the semi's to Hungary, in one of the all time great games. Both teams were not at full strength, Hungary were rampant and were 2 up, but the Uruguayans were battlers, and were level with 3 mins to go. Extra time was a bridge to far though, and Hungary ran away 4-2 winners. End to end for 120 mins of elegant football heaven.


Venues for the finals were this time in close proximity of Berne. With 6 cities picked to hold the games.


West Germany won their first WC, and go down as the highest goalscorers for WC winners;25, but also most goals conceded;14. The first finals team apparently to wear screw in studs, which some say helped in their final win v Hungary.


The Final XI's

West Germany 3: Turek, Posipal, Kohlmeyer, Eckel, Liebrich, Mai, Rahn 19,85, Morlock 10, Walter O, Walter F, Schafer

Hungary 2: Grosics, Buzanszky, Lantos, Bozsik, Lorant, Zakarias, Czibor 8, Kocsis, Hidegkuti, Puskas 6, Toth J


Youngest captain of a WC team in the finals was Turgay Seren of Turky he was 22 years 33 days. Ladislav Novak of Czechoslovakia was 22 years 193 days.


Zero-Zero is a score that still eludes this amazing competition, and lets face it, in a tournament that was exploding with goals, it was never going to happen. Austria v Scotland 1-0, was the the tournament came to a goalless game.