When Sir Thomas Lipton tried to organise the very first world cup by inviting the football associations of England, Germany, Switzerland and Italy to nominate a representative team for a magnificent trophy he had made specially, the English FA were reluctant to become involved and refused to name a club that would represent them in the first ever world cup in Italy. It may seem bizarre that eventually, a team not affiliated to the English FA, from the village of West Auckland in County Durham, represented England. The team of miners and working men even more bizarrely won! Two years later, the world cup was played for again, and as Champions West Auckland were asked to defend their trophy. Not only did they again beat the cream of the continent, but in the final faced Juventus, who they promptly dispatched by 6-1!
As the World Cup we now all celebrate was born out of the ashes of Sir Thomas Lipton's initial enterprise got underway in the 1930s, the English FA was again found wanting, and refused to take part with the national team. A decade later, WWII intervened, the world changed, and by 1950 there had been a change of heart.
One of the keys to this change of heart was Arthur Drewry, Grimsby Town director, and Chairman. However, because of the war and the continuing need for major infrastructure to be rebuilt across Europe, the thought of hosting a world cup was too much for all European governments. In 1949 though, Brazil put in a bid to do so, having also been one of the bidders for the cancelled 1942 tournament alongside Germany. England began to prepare, safe in the knowledge that they were highly likely to beat any opposition put in front of them. Several of the original 16 teams withdrew, including Scotland (because they hadn't won the Home International Championship), Turkey, France ….
England had a team touring Canada as the World Cup approached, so whilst the main England team went to Brazil, with manager Walter Winterbottom and Arthur Drewry as FA representative, the rest of the Committee stayed in Canada with the touring team. This left the "committee" that picked the England team with a total of one member …. Our Arthur!
First up in the league section of the competition was Chile. They were dispatched 2-0 with goals from Mortensen and Mannion.
Second match for England was against the USA, a doddle of a match if ever there was one. Arthur decided on keeping a successful team together, and shots rained in on the American goal from all angles. The Times reported that never had an England team played so badly, and the disaster was that Gaetjens struck for the Americans. Together with a 6-3 home defeat to Hungary in 1953, this became one of the two most ignominious defeats in the England team's history!
The final group match was against Spain, and in front of 75,000 Brazilians, England lost again to the only goal of the game and were eliminated.
Arthur Drewry went on to become the head of FIFA, in 1955, organising the FIFA end of the tournament in Sweden which included our own Johnny Scott, and set up the foundations for England to host, and win the 1966 World Cup, although he died 5 years before it was to take place.
In a world where football administrators now earn vast sums, Arthur did it all for expenses only, and for the love of the game.
So as you cheer on the Three Lions, remember the part played by Arthur Drewry, and Grimsby Town in originally getting England to the World Cup. And just a footnote from history. The final four in 1950 were Spain, Uruguay, Brazil and Sweden …………….