VICTORY IN PARIS
Allied POW's escape after magnificent comeback in propaganda football match against German national team
RENEWED Vigour has been instilled in our troops after a team of unfit prisoners of war, who were being forced into playing a football match, managed to more than hold their own against the German national football team in Paris yesterday.
After hearing reports that the match was to go ahead, many soldiers tuned in to the Nazi's propaganda radio station, where not even the bias of the commentator could hide the magnificent display and determination of the Allied side led by ex West Ham and England star Captain John Colby.
Colby's side displayed immence courage, and even inspired the french crowd at the end to rebel against their Nazi overlords, invading the pitch which culminated in the escape of the entire team.
One of our spies in the occupied French capital managed to get this report from the game back to London.
4 - 4
(4 - 1)
(Clure had goal disallowed 84)
GERMANY 4 - 4 ALLIED XI
August 15 1943
Columbes Stadium, Paris
By David Noble
The last big game in the grand old Columbes Stadium in Paris was the 1938 World Cup final, where the Italian's edged out a skilful Hungary side by 4 goals to 2 to defend their World Cup, won four years previously on home turf in Rome over another Eastern European opposition, this time Czechoslovakia. But yesterday saw a wartime return to the ground graced those 5 short years ago by the world's greatest players.
Another capacity crowd in Paris turned out to see the game, this time the prize for the visiting team was not the sought after Jules Rimet Trophy, but to try to put a halt the German propaganda machine.
The Allied POW team included a number of internationals, all shadows of their former selves having had their careers interrupted by war. The uniqueness of the team was that it was a selection of great players the only common factor being that they were being held captive by the Nazis. John Colby, pre war of West Ham United and England led the side out as captain. The German side, white hot favourites were captained by Baumann, another player whose career was suffering with the conflict. However, he led a side in much better condition than Colby's team of weary POW's.
The crowd in the French capital not surprisingly seemed to be against the Germans and therefore perhaps as a propaganda stunt the choice of venue could have been brought into question.
As armed Nazi guards paraded the perimeter of the pitch, Alsatians on hand, the two sides emerged from the tunnel. The allies dressed in brilliant white kits, with a red, white and blue vertical stripe adorning the left hand side of the shirts, the Nazi's in all black with white sleeves.
The crowds favouritism was pronounced when a small boy leapt from the crowd to pass on a bouquet of flowers to Allies goalkeeper, Robert Hatch. The American apparently drafted into the side as a late replacement for intended goalkeeper, Tony Lewis, who had broken his arm in the camp before the historic team set out. Captain Colby took the flowers from the "Crazy Yank" and passed them on to another section of the crowd before taking a bow, which received warm applause from the spectators.
The match finally got under way and the allied team as expected were under the cosh due to the Germans superior fitness.
However it was the Allies who had the first chance, after kicking off, they found going difficult but once acclimatised to the conditions, Gunnar Nilsson, a Norwegian had the chance to give Colby's side a dream start but his 20 yard drive was straight at Keeper, Schmidt.
From Schmitt's delivery Reinhardt picked the ball up on the left wing, a neat interplay down the flank between Becker, Skipper Baumann and Brandt led to outside left Albrecht who took on Allies defender Pieter Van Beck and delivered a deep cross to the far post, stand in keeper Hatch made a hash of the catch under pressure from the advancing Baumann ,eventually managing only to bundle the ball out for a corner. The American took a knock from the Nazi captain and this caused a scuffle in the box. (The resulting corner from the right was over hit and again fell to Albrecht on the left wing, his curling cross was met by Baumann under challenge from Hatch. His header nestled in the empty net. The crowd fell eerily silent as the Allied defenders argued amongst themselves in the box. 14 minutes gone, and the Allies were already trailing.)
Things got worse for the Allies on 25 minutes.Luis Fernandez had managed to push forward through the Nazi's half, showing immaculate skills to embarrass the static Kraut defence when he was brutally pulled down. The "Neutral" Official failed to view the incident as a foul.
Vigorously waving play on. The Germans picked up the loose ball, moved swiftly into the Allied box and after a scramble in the area Strauss swept home from 10 yards, low to Hatch's left into the corner of the net.
The match looked as if it could boil over, with tackles flying in mainly from the German side, from all angles, all going unpunished by the increasingly questionable referee. The proceedings got rather ugly as Hatch collected a low cross and was subsequently trampled by oncoming Nazi attackers. A scuffle ensued and Van Beck made the Allied feelings on the referee quite clear with a Nazi salute.
This was to be Van Becks last real action of the game as a neat move between himself and Fernandez led to him being scythed down from behind. The crowd rose to their feet as the referee again overlooked the challenge. Van Beck was taken off on a stretcher to warm applause and was replaced by the young Dane Erik Borge.
Worse followed for the Allies. In the 31st minute NO 7 made his way into the box and fell under the challenge of England legend Terry Brady, The referee, not surprisingly on past performance pointed to the spot. The Allied players surrounded the referee but his decision remained unchanged. Hatch, the "rookie" goalkeeper conferred with captain Colby. The clueless Yank seemingly not having any ides what was going on!! German captain Baumann stepped up to take the spot kick, he struck the ball right footed straight down the middle into the top of the net, giving Hatch no chance. The German's lead 3-0 and only half an hour had been played.
6 minutes later the score line got worse, Allied winger Carlos Rey made a run through the Nazi defence but was tackled by Baumann, he carried the ball forward again and a cute back heel to Bronte who evaded the challenge of Hatch and side footed past defender Colby on the line and into the empty net, to give the Nazi's a 4-0 lead.
The Allies were then reduced to 10 men when Fernandez took on Baumann but was then brutally sandwiched by two Nazi defenders. Again no free kick was given and Fernandez left the pitch clutching his ribs. This seemed to instil some fight into the tiring Allies who started to play the German's at their same physical game, the crowd rose to the added bite in the Allies play.
Further German advances were checked by the Allied defence and another goal mouth scuffle in the Allied box left Hatch on the ground clutching his head, again the referees temporary blindness kicked in.
On 44 minutes the Allies finally made a breakthrough. Englishman Doug Clure and Nilsson linked up inside the Allied half, carrying the ball forward to Rey who again linked with Nilsson down the left flank. His cross was met on the volley at the far post by Terry Brady who blasted into the empty net. The crowd rose to their feet applauding the Allied score. The goal had come right on half time and the players trooped off to the dressing rooms as the band appeared to play through the half time interval entertaining the capacity crowd.
The teams reappeared after the break, The Allies looking much more confident after their successful assault on the Nazi goal. The injured Fernandez sitting on the bench wrapped in a red towel looking uncomfortable, he did not look like he could stand up let alone return to make the impact he did later in the game. Scotsman Arthur Hayes had picked up a nasty ankle injury during the first half and so contravercially Polands Paul Wolchek, who had, according to rumor barely survived the Nazi Concentration camps, saved only apparently by Colby's insistance on having him in his squad, came on to take Hayes place.
The Allies, now with fresh vigour, again set about the German goal and a neat interplay between Colby and Rey led to Nilsson shooting a half volley straight at Schmidt from 10 yards.
10 minutes into the second half Rey finally managed to reduce the Allies arrears this time with a mesmeric run from the half way line, eventually rounding Schmidt and finishing into an empty net sending the crowd wild. Colby urged his men forward. The remaining 35 minutes were certainly not for the faint hearted. Tackles flew in from all angles. Hatch, The clueless Yank from the first half seemed to have had a sudden change of form and pulled off a string of last ditch blocks, mainly of an unorthodox nature but successful all the same.
15 minutes remained when the Allies pulled back to 4-3, Borge played forward to Rey whose run into the area ended with a shot saved by the legs of Schmidt, the rebound however fell to Wolchek whose shot powered into the goal .
The growing self belief was epitomised by Rey who showed immense skill in making Baumann look foolish with an audacious overhead flick, unfortunately Clure failed to control and the move which deserved an equaliser broke down.
The Allies then had what seemed a perfectly good goal ruled out with the officials reasoning seeming very suspicious. A neat move down the left hand side involving Rey, Clure and Brady seemed to have broken down when a loose German backpass was pounced upon by Wolchek. His challenge with the goalkeeper lead to the ball running free in the area across the open goalmouth, Wolchek cut the ball back from an acute angle but his effort came back off the upright, but Clure was on hand to turn the ball into the empty net, The Parisian crowd went bananas, until the celebration was prematurely cut short by a linesman's raised flag. The crowd roared their disapproval as once again the action on the pitch threatened to boil over.
As the players regrouped Fernandez signalled that he wanted to return to the action. He came on clutching his heavily bruised chest. His movement appeared limited, but his ball control was still immaculate in the midfield despite some very close attention from Baumann.
With only 2 minutes remaining on the scoreboard clock, Fernandez, although clutching his ribs managed to take on most of the Nazi defence before playing the ball wide to Brady, his cross headed for the penalty spot, Where Fernandez waited, unmarked, back to goal. He set himself, and despite his injury, rose to meet the ball with a perfect overhead kick, the ball flew into the net, Schmidt unable to stop this wonder strike making the bottom left hand corner of the net. The crowd again rose to their feet. Fernandez was hoisted, shoulder high by his team mates and carried back to the half way line. The crowd sang out "Victoire!" The Germans seemingly bemused by what had just occurred.
From the restart Nilsson had a chance to seal the game for the Allies, but his shot from the edge of the box went straight at Schmidt.
Disaster then struck for the Allies as Schmidt's clearance reached Baumann in space. His run into the box was checked by Rey, and the Nazi feel under the innocuous challenge and the referee, not surprisingly pointed to the spot. The Allies surrounded the officials but the decision was final.
The crowd, seconds earlier falling silent, sang a resounding chorus of the "Marci age". The Germans again bemused by the atmosphere.
Baumann took the ball as Hatch marched up to the spot to eyeball the dodgy Kraut.
As he returned to his line Baumann placed the ball on the spot, hoping for a repeat of his earlier spot kick.
He took four paces back and drove the penalty towards the left hand corner of the net, Hatch dived headlong and caught he ball. Again mass celebration ensued, Hatch was carried shoulder high as the crowd invaded the pitch. A mass invasion was surely the Germans worst nightmare as the players were lost in the melee. The only disappointment was that the Allies did not get a chance to score a winning goal in the remaining seconds.
Not one of the heroes that played in that remarkable game were returned to the POW camp. A memorable draw from a truly memorable team had given all present that day an amazing experience which eventually ended in a true Escape to Victory