What Really Happened: Saturday December 20 1969

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Round Up – Ronald Atkin (Observer 21 December 1969 p.16)

A combination of all that’s bad about Britain in winter threw yesterday’s football programme into disorder. More than a third of the English and Scottish games were called off, and the matches which did take place cause crumpled coupons among the pools punters.

Chelsea  3  Man City  1  – Hugh McIlvanney   (Observer 21 December 1969 p.16)

There should have been a good football match at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Manchester City were supposed to be playing. A team in red and black stripes did turn up [with many injuries and unknowns]. The result could be read in the team lists: the action was merely confirmation of the inevitable. That the hour and a half was entertaining implies credit to Manchester City’s collective spirit to the irrespressible abilities of the remarkable players who were able to appear, above all Summerbee, and to Chelsea’s capacity for making an easy race an impressive procession.

Sheffield Wednesday  1  Arsenal  1  – Michael Wale (Observer 21 December 1969 p.16)

Just as it seemed the best entertainment of the afternoon would be provided by Hillsborough’s electric scoreboard as it flashed up the half time results, Sheffield scored to make a contest of a game that until then had been as dull as the weather.

A layer of slush on the pitch guaranteed that skill would be reduced to a minimum, but not quite the low level produced by the home side in the first half, when they  tried to exist against the tall Arsenal backline with only three front runners.

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Tottenham  0  West Ham  2  (Observer 21 December 1969 p.16)

West Ham had not had an away win for nine months. After a period of time like that, something had to happen. Fecundity finally arrived at White Hart Lane. Four minutes were only required for the actual propagation.

In the twelfth and fourteenth minutes Peters and Hurst scored, the first fortuitously, the second furiously, and then in the fifteenth Greaves, of all people, missed a penalty.

Both the little maestro and Spurs as a whole had an unhappy afternoon. Beset by injuries they missed the massive presence of England and the experience of Gilzean.

West Ham, for their part did not have to draw on all their skills to defeat this spurs side.

Stoke  1 Crystal Palace  0  – James Holland (Guardian Monday 22 December p. 14)

The trite but true observation that if you cannot score goals you cannot win matches is most applicable to Crystal Palace, whose defeat, 1-0 by Stoke City at the Victoria Ground on Saturday brough more clearly into focus the relegation spectre that has been hovering over Selhurst Park for quite some time.

In spite of the treacherous conditions underfoot Palace were frequently the better footballing combination, moving the ball swiftly and accurately and quickly taking up position for the next pass, but nearing the Stoke penalty zone no one seemed to know what was the final purpose of it.

Consequently Banks was mainly employed gathering and clearing numerous back passes.

The innocuous attitude of the Palace contrasted sharply with the eagerness of City’s forwards displayed individuality rather than collectively, and…always dangerous.

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