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Rovers’ World Cup Countdown – 1958

9 June 2014

Rovers legends Ronnie Clayton and Bryan Douglas both made their World Cup bows at the sixth staging of the tournament in 1958.

‘Dougie’ started all three group games for England, who drew against the Soviet Union (2-2), Brazil (0-0) and Austria (2-2), but was left out of the side for the play-off decider.

Ronnie was brought into the starting XI for the first time for the showdown with the Soviet Union, but he was unable to prevent England from slipping to a narrow 1-0 defeat.  

“It was fantastic to be picked and to appear in a World Cup, but it had come at the wrong time for me personally and also for the England team,” said Bryan, who made over 500 appearances for Rovers between 1952 and 1969.

“In early 1958, we had the Munich Disaster and we lost three of the Manchester United players – three great players – and for me personally, we’d had a hard season.

“We got promotion that year, but every game was like a cup tie from round about Christmas, plus we got to the semi-final of the FA Cup, so we had a lot of hard games and to go out there, trying to be fresh, it was difficult.

“We drew all of our games, and one of them was Brazil, but we qualified for a play-off against Russia. In the play-off, I was left out of the team and a lad called Peter Brabrook from Chelsea played and in fact he was unfortunate because he headed one against the post, but they ended up getting beat.

“Having said that, I did enjoy the experience, despite being disappointed that we didn’t get through to the next phase.”

Rovers’ other representative at the tournament in Sweden was Welshman Roy Vernon.

The forward, who won 32 caps for his country, was unused in the first two fixtures, as Wales were held to 1-1 draws by Hungary and Mexico.

Vernon was introduced for Wales’ final group game – a goalless draw with Sweden – but then lost his place for the play-off game against Hungary, which Wales won 2-1.

Wales’ World Cup adventure came to an end in the knockout stage following a 1-0 defeat to Brazil, who went on to beat hosts Sweden 5-2 in the final.

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