From the Burnley Express Archive: Reliving World Cup memories in 1970

The 110 Club, in June 1970, is the location for this week’s From the Express Archive.

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 3:45 pm

The story involves the visit to Mexico by club steward Tom Grace. He had won a £1,000 17-day holiday of a lifetime to watch the World Cup.

Mr Grace had just about achieved the impossible – getting his customers to buy, and drink, more Bass Export bottled beer than any other club steward in Bass Charrington’s North West Region! The trip, he said, was “the most wonderful experience I have ever had, more exciting than could possibly be imagined”.

The photograph shows Tom with some of the customers at the Club. He has with him the sombrero, which he brought back for his young son, and a bottle of tequila, which is being shared by customers.

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Among the souvenirs which Tom Grace brought back from Mexico was a bottle of tequila. Tom, complete with sombrero which he bought in Mexico City for his young son, pours a drink for a delighted customer at the 110 Club.

According to the Express reporter, there was to be a bonus to come for Mr Grace’s friends and customers on Yorkshire Street. He took a cine camera to Mexico with him and he planned to show a film of his holiday as soon as possible.

With regard to the football, Mr Grace said: “Despite the disappointment of England’s defeat, in the quarter final (3-2 to Germany) we can and should be proud of our team. Watching on television here must have been misleading. Honestly, you wouldn’t believe how hot it was sitting in the Jalisco Stadium, at Guadalajara, just watching. You felt to be frying and, for the players, it must have been absolutely killing.”

Mr Grace saw eight games and said: “Even though I genuinely believe we would have beaten Brazil, given the chance, at the Aztec Stadium, on final day, I can’t accept Sir Alf Ramsey’s view that we had nothing to learn from the Brazilians. Our defence was streets ahead but their forwards showed us how to attack in style. Everyone in our party of 53 thought that Ralph Coates should have been kept in the England Squad.”

I recall very little about the 1970 World Cup. I do, however, remember the debate about how hot it was going to be for our players, before they set off for Mexico, and about the non-selection of Ralph Coates, who was still a Burnley player in 1970.

It was not until May, 1971, that Ralph left Burnley for Tottenham, for £190,000. He only won four full caps for England, two when playing for Burnley and two when a Spurs man, but he deserved many more. Ralph made a single appearance for the English Football League and won eight under 23 caps during the years 1967-9.

At the time, people were very sad that Ralph was not in the final World Cup squad. He had made it to the initial 28 but he was excluded from the 22 who travelled to Mexico.

Although played under the hot suns of Central America, it must not be forgotten that England were the world champions at the beginning of the competition. There was an expectation that England might do well and, in the circumstances, an appearance in the Quarter Final was not bad.