England 2-2 Austria (partially found footage of international football match; 1951)

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England2-2austria19511.jpg

Programme for the match.

Status: Partially Found

On 28th November 1951, England hosted Austria for a friendly international football match. Occurring in front of a sold-out 100,000 Empire Stadium, the encounter ended 2-2. The match's quality was well-regarded by critics, even leading some to consider it the "match of the century".

Background[edit | edit source]

Heading into the match, England and Austria had previously faced each other six times.[1][2] The last occurred in Austria's Praterstadion on 6th May 1936, where the hosts won 2-1.[3][1] Repeating this feat would prove a challenge, as England boasted an unbeaten record at home against continental sides. Additionally, Austria had only played England once on English soil, losing 4-3 at Stamford Bridge on 1932.[4][1][2][5] Nevertheless, despite having not competed at the 1950 FIFA World Cup, Austria were still considered a strong team, with Ernst Ocwirk being declared their best player.[6][5][7] England had hoped to combat Ocwirk by placing William Wright as a defensive inside-left, but injuries, including one suffered by Tom Finney, forced changes to occur elsewhere, particularly in the right-wing, left-back, inside-left, and centre-half.[5][6] The Three Lions were also receiving slack for below-average performances, including during its 1951/52 British Home Championship games.[7] Thus, this was viewed as an opportunity to rebuild the home side's reputation.[7][2]

The Match[edit | edit source]

The match occurred on 28th November in front of a record crowd at the Empire Stadium.[8][9] It was reported that the ground had sold-out, thus reaching around 100,000 spectators in total.[8][9] England started strongly, with Ivor Broadis receiving a shot on-goal following a pass from Arthur Milton.[7] This was saved in the fourth minute by Austrian goalkeeper Walter Zeman, with Mike Payne's England: The Complete Post-War Record citing this gave the visitors an advantage considering England typically needed to get on the scoreboard promptly to challenge the international opposition.[7] England nevertheless produced the most opportunities in the first-half, though Adolf Huber, likely via passes from Ocwirk and Ernst Stojaspal, did provide two near-goals for the visitors, prevented only by a save from Gilbert Merrick and a block from Bill Eckersley.[7][6]

In the second-half, Austria began as the better side.[7] Just two minutes into the half, a free kick from Ocwirk was reached by Ernst Melchior that defeated Merrick, putting the visitors 1-0 up.[7][5][2][6][8][9] England fought back with several significant attacks.[7][6] Eventually, with 70 minutes having been completed, Eddie Baily was fouled in the Austrian penalty box, with referee John Alexander Mowat immediately awarding a penalty kick.[7][2][5] Alf Ramsey converted the spot kick to level proceedings.[10][7][5][2][6][8][9] According to Ramsey, he was not as confident as the British newspapers indicated.[10] To maximise his chances of scoring, he placed the ball so that the lace was towards the goalkeeper.[7][10] He stated he became the "happiest man in the world" upon scoring, though did also reflect what would have happened had he missed.[10] Seven minutes later, Ramsey took a free kick that reached the far post; Lofthouse headed the ball in to have the hosts lead 2-1.[7][5][2][6][8][9] The lead lasted until the 88th minute as a header from Huber was blocked by the hand of Eckersley, Austria immediately being awarded a penalty.[7][2][5][6] Stojaspal converted for the equaliser.[7][2][5][6][8][9] Ultimately, neither side managed any further goals, thus resulting in a draw at full-time.[7][2][6][8][9]

The match was critically acclaimed, with the 21st November 1951 issue of the Birmingham Gazette noting several critics had declared it the "match of the century".[11] Others praised both sides for producing aggressive attacks throughout the match, though noted it was ironic that all four goals were from set pieces.[7][5] Payne also believed that this was one of England's better performances, though felt the Three Lions should have emerged victorious had they properly capitalised on Austria's defensive errors.[7] The next match between the two sides occurred at Austria's Praterstadion on 25th May 1952, with England winning 3-2.[12][2][1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

As noted in Issue 1,463 of Radio Times, the BBC televised the second-half of the game live.[13][14][15] It stated commentary was provided by Jimmy Jewell, though England Football Online states Kenneth Wolstenholme was also present in the booth.[13][14][15][8] Ultimately, the coverage was broadcast live in an era where telerecordings seldom occurred until videotape was perfected in the late-1950s.[16][17] While England's 30th November 1949 clash with Italy was partially recorded, no other matches where Jewell provided commentary on were as lucky, resulting in the coverage becoming permanently missing.[16][17] Nevertheless, highlights can be found in a few newsreels.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Videos[edit | edit source]

British Pathé newsreel of the match.
Reuters newsreel of the match.
British Movietone newsreel of the match.
Silent British Pathé outtakes from its newsreel.
Italian newsreel of the match.


Image[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 11 vs 11 listing the England-Austria matches. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Glen Isherwood's Wembley: The Complete Record summarising England's record against Austria and the match itself. (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  3. England Football Online detailing the 6th May 1936 clash. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  4. England Football Online detailing the 7th December 1932 clash. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Norman Giller summarising the encounter and team changes made (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 FA Yearbook 1952-53 detailing the match and the changes made heading in (report found on England Football Online. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 7.17 Mike Payne's England: The Complete Post-War Record providing a detailed match report (report found on England Football Online). Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 England Football Online detailing the match, its statistics, and reports on it. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 11 vs 11 detailing the result of the match and other statistics. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Alf Ramsey reflecting on the penalty kick (quote found on England Football Online). Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  11. 21st November 1951 issue of Birmingham Gazette noting some declared the encounter the "match of the century" (quote found on England Football Online). Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  12. England Football Online detailing the 25th May 1952 clash. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  13. 13.0 13.1 BBC Genome archive of Radio Times issues detailing the BBC's coverage of the match. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  14. 14.0 14.1 Issue 1,463 of Radio Times listing the coverage. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  15. 15.0 15.1 England Football Online detailing the television coverage of the match. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  16. 16.0 16.1 BBC Genome Blog noting how almost all football broadcasts featuring Jewell's commentary were never recorded. Retrieved 31st Dec '22
  17. 17.0 17.1 Web Archive article discussing how most early television is missing due to the lack of directly recording television. Retrieved 31st Dec '22