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Versatile hard man

Submitted by on Saturday, 7 February 2009No Comment
Versatile hard man

Terry Paine, veteran of the unlikely World Cup-winning side of ’66, looks back on street footie and putting dirty players in their place — and taking his mum to Buckingham Palace.

You’ve just brought out your biography, ‘Constant Paine’ (Hagiology 2008), in England; how’s it doing?

Brilliantly; but it’s a proper piece of work; I mean it took ten years to do. David Bull, he is the Southampton Football Club historian, did the writing and it’s almost 500 pages long. The problem is getting them out here, as the transport is so costly. They’re pretty heavy; I could only bring six through customs. But we are trying to get the book to SA and with a bit of luck they will be here sometime in March.

What originally brought you out to South Africa?

In 1979 Bobby Charlton called me and said they were taking a whole lot of ex-players to SA to do a three or four match tour. There was an array of ex-internationals like Bobby Moore and Jackie Charlton, Roger Hunt, also players like Bob Wilson, – we were all about 40/ 41 years old, had finished with our clubs and were in reasonable shape. I remember one of the most bizarre moments of that trip was Bobby Moore being sent off at the Rand Stadium. He had never been sent off in his life; I don’t think he had ever even had his name taken; he comes here and some referee wants to get his name in the record books and sends him off… Anyway, that trip got me to have a look around here. I saw the love of the game, especially in the black population and I realised that if the country ever got back into the international fold again, football would take off here in a big way.

Were you approached by any local clubs?

Yes. I was approached by a top amateur club in the South called Robertsham, who invited me to fly out once a year and coach them for 5 or 6 weeks at a time. That gave me a good look at South Africa and ultimately led to a more permanent coaching position when I came out and coached Witbank Black Aces.

How did you feel going from winning a world cup with England, to dealing with muti and witch doctors?

It was important to the players. Although, in the beginning I thought I wasn’t going to get involved in that. But after we had gone 17 games undefeated, I used to ask them where the muti was and if they didn’t know I’d make them go and get it (laughs). I was converted. Strangely the only time I forced them to break the muti, against Bushbucks in Durban – the players wouldn’t go into the change rooms because of muti on the door – and I insisted that they ignore the stuff, we lost 1 – 0. So I suppose at the end of the day it’s the power of the mind; what you believe in.

Were they fully aware of whom you were – your pedigree?

Possibly not; a few of them had played in Europe so they had some idea. But it’s amazing what a winning formula will do. They become more aware of my background when I lead them into victories. But because I could also do everything, playing and skills-wise, that I wanted them to do, a lot of interest was created in my background.

You also coached Wits?

Yes – the first thing I noticed about Wits when I went there was the facilities. They were as good as anything I could have got in England. And we came third, which in those days, as far as I was concerned, was like winning the league by ten points (laughs). We were up against all the big clubs and I think all the refs were Chiefs or Pirates supporters.

These days’ youngsters with potential are put through academies and taught footballing skills – how to trap a ball; how to dribble a ball and how to strike a ball; but how did you as a youngster learn your skills?

We started playing with a ball that was really nothing more than a bunch of old socks bundled together. In those days balls were very expensive and boots almost unheard of. If you got a pair for Christmas – I mean what a present! But I was dedicated; I would borrow a ball from our local team and I would play against a wall or fence over and over again – that’s how I learned to play. Then we would also play in games where there were twenty a side, on a Sunday morning and unless you were good, you hardly got a touch.

How different were the balls then, to the ones that are used today?

The bloody laces! There was a lovely comment about Stanley Mathews, it went – he was so good, that when he crossed a ball, the laces were always facing the other way (laughs), so they didn’t’ get you when you headed it. But I must confess, I wouldn’t go in a wall to block a free kick – if one of those balls hit you, you knew all about it. So they were very different to the plastic balls they use today, which bend and curl and don’t have the bloody laces.

From time to time you were switched from the right to the left wings; which was your strongest side?

Oh, definitely right. However when they called me ambidextrous in the press, I had to get the dictionary out and look it up. I was almost equally good with my left and scored a few goals with it. But I didn’t only switch wings; I also played goalkeeper a couple of times. When I played there were no substitutes, although you could replace the goalie if he was injured. I went in twice; against Plymouth which we lost 2 – 1, and against Portsmouth, where I kept a clean sheet.

You played 713 out of a possible 735 games for Southampton, which is an astonishing statistic. How did you survive, given that the opposition sides would have been gunning for you?

In those days any tackle below the throat was allowed, so you had to get your retaliation in first (laughs). But you needed a huge amount of luck and you had to look after yourself. There were a few of us who stood up to the hard men and refused to be intimidated.

You were reputedly a hard man yourself.

I did pick up a bit of a reputation – there is no doubt about that. But it was that, or get kicked off the park. You also knew who the guys to watch out for were and you would make sure you never got into a fifty/ fifty with them.

Did any of the dirty stuff carry on off the field?

No. In our days we would finish, get changed and go. I remember playing at Sunderland and having eight minutes to shower, change and catch the bus to London, so that we would catch the last train to Southampton. We never saw the other players – we played against them and that was it. There was no such thing as player’s bars and after match functions.

You were in England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad; do you still keep in touch with any of those players?

Very much so – in fact in 2006, FIFA invited all the World Cup winning sides since 1930 (first WC), to the World Cup in Germany. They looked after us like we were gods – as if we were still playing the game today. They gave us all a gold statue of the World Cup and a watch like the refs were using in the 2006 World Cup; and it was lovely to see the guys that made the trip. Some, like Geoff Hurst were on duty doing dinners in Europe. Some like Gordon Banks didn’t make it. But the Charltons (Jack & Bobby) were there, Roger Hunt, Ian Callaghan – there were about 14 of us. Sadly that was the last time I saw Alan Ball. I sat next to him at that World Cup, and as you know he died a year later of a heart attack – very sad.

After he was dropped in the final of the 1966 World Cup, Jimmy greaves refused to attend reunions, was he at this one?

Obviously he was terribly upset and you’re right, he refused to attend any reunions. No he wasn’t at this one. But I recently spoke to him about my book, to see if he would have a few words with David Bull (biographer for ‘Constant Paine’), and he was fine.

In the semi-final against Mexico, which England won 2 – 0; if you hadn’t been concussed, would you have played in the final against West Germany?

That’s a big question isn’t it? A lot of people have suggested different scenarios, but it is not clear cut. Bobby Moore suggests that perhaps Alf, (Sir Alf Ramsey – England manager) didn’t think the wingers were good enough; but if that was so, why did he pick three of us? The other suggestion was that Alf wanted to keep his options open, depending on which side we were drawn against. And the last one was; would Alf have changed a winning side? Which was essentially his style – he rarely changed a winning team. But obviously I can’t really answer that question.

Given that when Sir Alf Ramsey took over England they were a shambles, they lost 6 – 3 to France, yet he went on to win the World Cup, which he predicted England would do. If you had been given total control of Bafana Bafana, what would you have done in readiness for 2010?

The first thing you do when you get a team is asses what you have got. And what we have got, I am very disappointed with. The problem is that we haven’t got to grips with what we need to produce at grassroots. We play at it – but it is not really entrenched yet. I believe as far as preparations now are concerned, we are on track, but that then begs the question, ‘Do we have the players?’ I don’t think so. Benni (McCarthy) will be about 34; in a World Cup, where you will need a huge work rate; will he be able? Who else? Pienaar (Steven)? He is world class. But we need at least 6 world class players like him. We have one.

Although, by hosting the World Cup we do have home town advantage; which is a massive plus for South Africa. I mean would we have won the World Cup in 1966, if we hadn’t played in England? Sir Alf Ramsey even managed to sneak us onto Wembley, the ‘Cathedral of soccer,’ as it was known then, to practise. There we were practising on the hallowed turf, completely against the rules (laughs). That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t held in England.

As a little boy, when you started kicking a ball around, did you dream of playing in the big-time?

Not really. It was only when I stepped up to Winchester City that I thought, ‘Hey, this is good fun.’ I mean till then, I had never seen Southampton play and they were only twelve miles away.

Tell me about getting your MBE.

It was a particularly special time for me. I was with Hereford at the time and we had just got promotion; and it was a massive thing for my parents. Unfortunately my dad died before I went to receive it, but I got to take mum to Buckingham Palace, which was an exceptional and emotional day for all of us. And to be recognised for my contribution to football was really marvellous. It wasn’t for anything particular, like winning the World Cup; but more my total involvement in football. Mind you, they shell them out like peas now – I mean if you win the ashes against Australia, you get an MBE – goodness gracious – come on…

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