England moved on
from Hungary to Czechoslovakia for the second and last match of an
abbreviated Continental tour. It was England's first meeting with Czechoslovakia, although they had played
Bohemia in Prague on their first foreign tour in 1908, a decade before the
Czechoslovakian state came into being. While not as widely hailed as either Austria or Italy, Czechoslovakia,
too, had claims to Continental footballing supremacy.
Czechoslovakia and England shared distinction as the only two teams to
have beaten Austria during the early 1930's when the Wunderteam were ascendant and regarded as Continental Europe's
Czechoslovakia had won 2-1 in Vienna in May, 1933 and drawn the return
in Prague 3-3 four months later, while England had struggled to a 4-3 victory
at Stamford Bridge in December, 1932.
Czechoslovakia and Austria were the only teams to have beaten Italy,
the other candidate for Continental supremacy, thus far during the 1930's.
England were not to join that select group until later in the year.
Because England's continuing absence from World Cup competition meant
the notion of English
footballing superiority could be tested only in friendly matches, there was
considerable prestige at stake in this game.
Czechoslovakians excelled at the intricate Danubian short-passing game,
although they called their playing style the "little Czech passage" rather
than the "Vienna School".
They boasted possibly the world's finest goalkeeper in Frantisek Plánička
and perhaps Europe's best left-side forward pairing in Oldrich Nejedlý, the
prolific inside forward who was to become top scorer at the World Cup 1934
final tournament the
next month with six goals, and Antonin Puč, the high-scoring winger, both
of whom struck goals against England.
The match marked the penultimate international appearance for Josef
Silný, the forward of silky skills who earned his 50th and last cap in his team's opening match at the World Cup finals 11 days later.
These three forwards provided a combined firepower Czechoslovakia has
not seen since.
Some 60 years after their careers ended, Puč remained atop the
national side's goal-scoring chart, while Nejedlý and Silný still shared
fielded a team that was vastly more experienced in international football than
the England team. The Czechs had a combined 252 caps to their
English counterparts' 75. Only two England players had more than 10
caps--the Derby County pair of right back Tommy Cooper with 14 and right
winger Sammy Crooks with 21. Two England players were making their
two were making only their second appearance and one his third. By
contrast, no Czech player had fewer than 20 caps and six had more than
result was England's fourth loss against a Continental team on foreign soil--the
second in succession--and
should have put in question continuing claims to English footballing
superiority. At the very least it was clear England could no longer
send just any assemblage of First Division players to the Continent and still remain
assured of victory. The result was also a
reliable indication of
the growing strength of Continental football and of
World Cup final
Czechoslovakia reached the final
match, losing to host Italy 2-1 only after extra time.
IN OTHER NEWS...
It was on 15 May 1934 that 41 miners were killed in a gas explosion in
the Belgian village of Pâturages. Five men were rescued from the
mine, but a second explosion, two days later, killed most of a rescue
party, leaving 57 dead in total. The mine was closed and abandoned.