It is 20 years since Rob Shepherd inadvertently found himself with a starring role in one of the most remembered fly-on-the-wall documentaries.
This week, as England prepared for do-or-die World Cup qualifiers once again, Shepherd has re-lived that fateful press conference in Rotterdam with the then England manager Graham Taylor.
The clip, available below courtesy of Mail Online, from the documentary An Impossible Job, shows Shepherd, then chief football reporter for Today, questioning Taylor’s team selections – five changes after the previous 3-0 victory – for the vital game against Holland.
Roy Hodgson has had his ups and downs with the media but the video clip from 1993 shows that nothing has really changed.
“It is not every day the England manager tells you to ‘piss off out of the country’,” Shepherd said.
“In a scene you might remember from the documentary, which still has a cult following all these years on – and aficionados have re-named ‘Do I Not Like That’ – Taylor lambasted me for my pessimism about England’s chances of avoiding defeat and so not making it to the finals in the USA the following year.
“None of us in the ‘Hack Pack’ who followed England at the time knew that a documentary was being filmed. But Graham Taylor did.
“He felt this would be the way to get his revenge after what had happened against Sweden in the Euros when he was depicted as a turnip by The Sun.
“He agreed to allow a TV crew unprecedented access so he could be perceived as a Pied Piper leading England’s merry men to the World Cup in the USA.”
Shepherd, with the help of colleague and SJA member David Harrison, had got the team selection spot on ahead of the Holland game.
“My agitated demeanour, which raised Taylor’s hackles, was enhanced by a heady mix of adrenaline and anger,” Shepherd said. “Adrenaline, because I had scooped the rest of Fleet Street’s finest. Anger? I was aghast. I so wanted England to qualify for the World Cup finals.
“I just had to vent my view that Taylor’s bizarre team selection would be disastrous, just as it was against Norway in Oslo.”
And the rest, as they say, is football history, all rather well-recorded thanks to Graham Taylor’s television crew.
Will it all be different come Tuesday night at Wembley?
- For more of Rob Shepherd’s recollections of Graham Taylor’s final days as England manager, click here
- Between now and the end of 2013, anyone wishing to join the SJA may apply, with their initial fee covering their membership through until the end of 2014 – effectively 15 months’ membership for the price of 12. Click here for more details.
UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Thu Oct 24: SJA Lunch with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Fully booked
Tue Oct 29: SJA Masterclass with Andy Dunn. Click here to attend
Thu Dec 12: SJA 2013 British Sports Awards. Bookings now open. Click here for details
Tue Feb 25: SJA Masterclass with Des Kelly. For more information, click here
Mon Mar 24: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, Grand Connaught Rooms, London
Mon Apr 14: SJA Spring Golf Day: Croham Hurst GC, Surrey. Booking details to be announced
Tue May 20: SJA Masterclass with Janine Self. For more information, click here