do not mention the war

Football Voices

In Anglo-German Relations, Football, Germany, History on July 25, 2012 at 12:20

The history of the World Cup has always been accompanied by very interesting radio and television commentaries. What follows is a collection of three classic and iconic commentaries from a German, an English and a Norwegian commentator.

1954: The Miracle of Berne

Germans will always remember Herbert Zimmermann‘s ecstatic words from 1954 when the German team overcame the odds and the huge favourites Hungary 3-2 after 90 minutes in the final of the World Cup played in Berne. Everyone will recount Zimmermann’s toppling voice when Rahn scored the third goal: Goal! Goal! Goal! and after the final whistle: Aus! Aus! Aus! The game is over! Germany are world champions! The Miracle of Berne has since been used as a mythical date of the foundation of West Germany and the restoration of national pride. Sadly, this restoration became audible when the German crowd began to sing the national anthem: Deutschland über Alles! less than 10 years after the war! Correctly many radio and tv stations ended their broadcast once the singing commenced.

Rudi Michel’s words at the 1966 final are added here to give a completely different picture to Herbert Zimmermann of how to comment on a football match. Whereas Zimmermann was excited, Michel was the complete opposite and hardly ever raised his voice. After Germany scored through Helmut Haller, there was no cry of goal goal goal; there was almost a minute silence.

1966 and all that

English football fans will have fond memories of Ken Wolstenholme’s phrase ‘Some people are on the pitch…They think it’s all over’ which have become part of English folklore and have found widespread use not just in English but also in television. There is a fanzine called They think it’s all Rovers for Doncaster as well as a film of the same title.

1981: Your boys took a hell of a beating

The last one in this little collection comes from Norway from 1981 when England lost 2-1 to Norway in a crucial World Cup qualifier. Björge Lillelien lost his countenance after the match and declared Norway to be the best in the world. The full version reads as follows:

“We are the best in the world! We are the best in the world! We have beaten England 2-1 in football!! It is completely unbelievable! We have beaten England! England, birthplace of giants. Lord Nelson, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana–we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all.
Maggie Thatcher can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you in the middle of the election campaign. I have a message for you: We have knocked England out of the football World Cup.Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!

Certainly this list could be prolonged as there are hundreds of commentaries that are as illustrious commentaries that have become landmarks in their respective culture.

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  1. That Hungarian team in 54 is the best ever not to have won the Cup. Lol at the norwegian commentator, ” Maggie Thatcher can you hear me ” :).

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    • True, Hungary deserved the title more than Germany, who were lucky indeed. On the other hand, you could argue that Hungary were too self assured of the title, that they were missing that final bit of energy.

      It is a worthwhile research to write something about the teams that deserved the World or any other Cup for that matter and yet were left empty handed. Hungary 1954, Holland 1974 come to mind.

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  2. […] three classic and iconic commentaries from a German, an English and a Norwegian commentator.” Do not mention the war (Video) Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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  3. […] Football Voices (donotmentionthewar.wordpress.com) […]

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  4. […] in German sport history and Herbert Zimmermann’s radio live report can be compared to Kenneth Wolstenholme’s famous dictum ‘Some people are one the […]

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