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The Sporting Life: The Hand of God

DocU

Well-known member
Location
South Notts
#2
It's very interesting to look at the the wider impact of the result going the other way, but I'm not convinced of the inevitability of an England win if the ref spots the handball. I seem to recall Maradona running through the English defence later in the game and hitting the post - not a subscriber to the 'Great Man' theory on the whole, but he seems to be one of the few players who can drive a team on through sheer force of will and ability. While not much might change in Argentina if that also goes in, it would change the narrative around the England team
 

David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#3
It's very interesting to look at the the wider impact of the result going the other way, but I'm not convinced of the inevitability of an England win if the ref spots the handball.
The assumption I made was that the result at 90 minutes would be unchanged, apart from the non-goal. I rather think the Maradona episode you describe was actually Argentina's second goal; it was a stunning piece of play, no question. He beat six tackles from five players, with almost contemptuous ease, sold Shilton a dummy that left him on the ground, and slotted the ball home. It was sheer genius play, and probably the best goal scored in a World Cup match.

If the match reaches 90 minutes and goes to extra time, then things start to swing England's way. The Argentine team had pretty much exhausted itself after 80 minutes, and was running on empty. Taking the match to extra-time certainly places an England win within the bounds of the possible, maybe even probable.

The Argentine team of '86 was Maradona plus 10 nobodies; essentially, OTL, he won the World Cup pretty much single-handed. If any player is worthy of the Great Man theory in football, it's him (and arguably Eusebio, but that's another digression).

Once you change the result of the match, and taking out the Hand of God, that's not a huge stretch, then things are different in Argentina.
 

AndyC

No
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
#4
On the England side, there would be one, possibly minor change: I doubt that Bobby Robson would have been told going into Italia 90 that unless he won the World Cup, he was certainly sacked.

As it was, he shrugged, lined up a management position with PSV Eindhoven to start after the World Cup, and when the England team unexpectedly ran all the way to the semi-final, wasn't available to continue (because, let's face it, the FA would have fallen over themselves to extend his contract at that point).

Which avoids the reign of Graham Taylor. What other effects it would have had, though I don't know. I doubt there would have been many, aside from being considerably more likely to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.
 

DocU

Well-known member
Location
South Notts
#5
The assumption I made was that the result at 90 minutes would be unchanged, apart from the non-goal. I rather think the Maradona episode you describe was actually Argentina's second goal; it was a stunning piece of play, no question. He beat six tackles from five players, with almost contemptuous ease, sold Shilton a dummy that left him on the ground, and slotted the ball home. It was sheer genius play, and probably the best goal scored in a World Cup match.

If the match reaches 90 minutes and goes to extra time, then things start to swing England's way. The Argentine team had pretty much exhausted itself after 80 minutes, and was running on empty. Taking the match to extra-time certainly places an England win within the bounds of the possible, maybe even probable.

The Argentine team of '86 was Maradona plus 10 nobodies; essentially, OTL, he won the World Cup pretty much single-handed. If any player is worthy of the Great Man theory in football, it's him (and arguably Eusebio, but that's another digression).

Once you change the result of the match, and taking out the Hand of God, that's not a huge stretch, then things are different in Argentina.
It could well be my memory, but I was sure he did it twice, scoring with the first. In my mental chronology, it was just after the ball went just over Lineker's head at 2-1. [Just checked, it was Tapia (who?) who hit the post after it went to 2-1].

I absolutely agree that Maradona won the World Cup in 86. The only modern player I can think of that does the same is Ronaldo.

Of course, my favoured Maradona 'what-if' is "What if he had signed for Sheffield United in 1978?"
 

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
Sea Lion Press staff
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#6
Of course, my favoured Maradona 'what-if' is "What if he had signed for Sheffield United in 1978?"
If I remember the story correctly, the Utd chairman sent a scout to argentina to dig up an exciting young attacking midfielder. The scout said 'ok, the one person everyone here is talking about and is bound to be a star is this maradona kid, we can probably get him for 300,000', sheffield united being yorkshiremen and also a second division team in the 70s said 'yeah, ok but what can we get for 40,000' and ended up with Sabella.

And then Maradona ended up being worth 5 million pounds by 1982. Classic cautionary tale of being penny wise and pound stupid.

Mind I was never that convinced that Maradona would have come even if the blades had found the 300,000 pounds.
 

OwenM

The patronising flippancy of youth
Location
Colwyn Bay/Manchester
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#7
It could well be my memory, but I was sure he did it twice, scoring with the first. In my mental chronology, it was just after the ball went just over Lineker's head at 2-1. [Just checked, it was Tapia (who?) who hit the post after it went to 2-1].

I absolutely agree that Maradona won the World Cup in 86. The only modern player I can think of that does the same is Ronaldo.

Of course, my favoured Maradona 'what-if' is "What if he had signed for Sheffield United in 1978?"
Perhaps he wouldn't have played in the 1979 Youth World Cup, maybe giving a bost to the career of *looks up* idk, Igor Pomonaryov?
 

Geordie

We're going to privatise swans
Published by SLP
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#8
Which avoids the reign of Graham Taylor. What other effects it would have had, though I don't know. I doubt there would have been many, aside from being considerably more likely to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.
Lineker would likely be England's top scorer? Almost certain to leapfrog Charlton.
 

Nick Sumner

is not the Messiah.
Published by SLP
Location
Halifax, Canada
#9
Funnily enough, I wrote a story called The Hand of God ages ago, where the 1986 quarter final result stays as OTL, but England beat Germany in regulation time in the 1990 semi final setting up a grudge match with Argentina in the 1990 final. England win it and it's actually their 4th world cup win; the others being 1938, 1962 and 1966. England take part in the 1934 and 1938 World Cups (instead of being all sniffy and precious about it as in OTL). Then the Munich air disaster doesn't happen so the 'Busby Babes' go on to have impressive careers. Duncan Edwards (hailed by many as the greatest footballer of all time) is the England coach in 1990 and 1994. I'm planning to incorporate the story (in slightly modified form) in the 3rd Drake's Drum book. In fact in Drake's Drum: The Peace of Amiens the 1938 world cup win is already documented.
 

AndyF

Shadow Under-Secretary for Treacle & Jam Mining
Patreon supporter
#10
being all sniffy and precious about it as in OTL
Britain had already formed an international governing body for Football prior to the founding of FIFA - the IFAB, which still oversees the rules of International Football (FIFA is a member along with the English, Scottish, Welsh & Irish FA's).
Britain's absence from the 1924 & 1928 Summer Olympic Tournaments was due to a protest over the decision to allow the championships to be Open (meaning allowed to contain professional players, prior teams had been all amateurs as befitting the terms of the Olympic competitions).They resigned from FIFA over the decision to allow professional teams in the inaugural 1930 World Cup in Uruguay & remained outside FIFA until 1946 over the issue.
Not exactly precious, at the time Britain regularly beat other nations so often that it was more like fair play.

That aside, good stuff.
And fabulous article, David.