Copies of old newspapers reveal a World Cup myth

Posted on June 11th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

England took part in the World Cup for the first time in 1950. Like this year’s tournament, the football matches were held in Brazil. The English national team met the United States in the group stages and suffered a shocking 1-0 defeat.

The game has gone down in football history and has a rather interesting urban myth attached to it. Many say that English newspapers reported a 10-1 win, assuming that there had been a typing error in the message they received from Brazil.

 

England World Cup team 1950

Nottingham Evening Post – Tuesday 13 June 1950
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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Copies of old newspapers reveal the truth

There are over 8 million newspaper pages online at The British Newspaper Archive, so we thought we’d take a look to see if the rumours were true.

We searched copies of old newspapers from 1950 for the words ‘England US World Cup’.

The United States were certainly seen to be the underdogs. On the day of the football match, the Derby Daily Telegraph confidently reported that ‘ENGLAND EXPECT A COMFORTABLE WIN’:

 

England faced the US at the 1950 World Cup

Derby Daily Telegraph – Thursday 29 June 1950
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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World cup shock for England

The Western Morning News was printed early the day after the infamous football match. While it was clearly shocked by the result, the newspaper correctly reported the score as 1-0.

The article stated that England had lost ‘against the 500-1 outsiders’, having played poorly. England’s manager Walter Winterbottom was reported to have sat glumly in the stand.

Winterbottom later said that ‘the team played very badly indeed, especially the forwards, who were far too eager’.

 

Copies of old newspapers show the England vs United States World Cup score in 1950 was not reported as 10-1

Western Morning News – Friday 30 June 1950
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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There was no fluke about it

Not one of the historical newspapers online at The British Newspaper Archive reported the score to be 10-1. It appears that this World Cup story is a myth.

The Aberdeen Journal stated that ‘it was pathetic to watch English football beaten by a side most amateur elevens would beat at home, and there was no fluke about it’.

 

Historical newspapers reveal the truth behind the World Cup myth

Aberdeen Journal – Friday 30 June 1950
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

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