Jimmy Greaves (Player – 1977/79)
Jimmy Greaves’ England career would span 8 years, see him earn 57 caps scoring 44 goals for the Three Lions.
His World Cup debut came in 1962, called up by then manager Walter Winterbottom. He featured in all four games in the tournament hosted in Chile and would score one goal in the tournament, a consolation in a 3-1 defeat to Argentina.
Upon his appointment as manager, Alf Ramsey predicted that England would win the World Cup in 1966. Greaves was the leading goalscorer for England at the time and big things were expected in advance of the tournament. The 1965-66 season proved difficult for Greaves as he struggled with hepatitis and was out of the Tottenham team for three months.
He returned to action with a few months left to go in the season and regained enough fitness to be included in Alf Ramsey’s plans for the England squad at the World Cup Finals.
The plan was for Greaves to lead Alf Ramsey’s attack and, as such, he featured in all three group stage matches against Uruguay, Mexico and France, each played in front of capacity grounds at Wembley Stadium.
He would fail to score in each of these games and in the final game of the group, a win over France, Greaves would go off injured with a cut shin that required 14 stitches and left him sitting on the sidelines for the quarter-final against Argentina.
Geoff Hurst took his place in the starting line-up that day, scored the only goal and subsequently retained his place for the semi-final win over a Portugal side that featured Eusébio.
Despite being fit to play in the final against West Germany, Alf Ramsey opted to have no substitutes and Geoff Hurst lead the England attack leaving Greaves in the stands. The rest, as they say, is history.
At the time, if you didn’t feature in the final, you didn’t get a medal, however, Greaves would receive on in 2009 after the FA led a campaign backed by various other countries to make governing body FIFA change the rules and award medals to all the previous winners’ squad members.
Greaves’ Barnet career began in August 1977. Seven years after retiring from top-flight football, he made a comeback at the age of 38 when he agreed to play for the club during our Southern League years. He was deployed in midfield and scored 25 goals, leading to him being voted our player of the season for the 1977/78 campaign.
His final appearance for the Bees came on the 7th April 1979, a 2-0 win over Cheltenham Town at Underhill.
Speaking in 2001, Greaves spoke fondly of his time at Barnet.
“It was great. They were two of my most memorable seasons I loved it.
“I’ve got a great affinity with the club. When people introduce me as Tottenham, Chelsea, AC Milan and West Ham, I always say ‘and Barnet’.
“We had quite a good side actually, although we were all getting on a bit. Dave Underwood was the chairman and he said ‘come and play for me’ and I did. Barry Fry came as manager in the second season.”
“It was a very tough league. Everybody wanted to play, everybody wanted to beat you it was a real combat and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I played in midfield and had to run, or try to run, the show a bit and it meant getting stuck in. You can’t airy fairy in the Southern League.”
Stay tuned for the next edition of World Cup Bees!