On This Day In 1993: Graham Taylor Becomes A Root Vegetable After Holland Nix England’s World Cup Dream

Martin Cloake

13th, October 2015


October 13th, 1993, and for reasons unbeknownst, England boss Graham Taylor decided to allow a TV documentary crew into the dugout for a vital World Cup qualifier.

His reactions on a controversial and frustrating night for England would be used as a stick to beat him with as the media turned on him, but really what was shown was the human side of a man struggling against his inevitable fate.

England faced the Netherlands at De Kuip in Rotterdam. Before the game, England were second in the group, and needed a win to secure automatic qualification. A draw would have kept them narrowly ahead of the Dutch, but instead they lost 2-0 on a night beset by controversy.

In the 57th minute, David Platt appeared set to score but was pulled back a yard inside the box by Dutch captain Ronald Koeman. However, the referee awarded a free-kick on the 18-yard line.

It was charged down and, three minutes later, the exact same thing happened at the other end.

Koeman won a free-kick on the very edge of the box. The blonde centre-half walloped a shot goal-wards but it was blocked almost at source. The referee, however, ordered a retake, claiming Paul Ince had left the England wall too early.

On his second attempt, Koeman deftly chipped the kick home, then Dennis Bergkamp doubled the lead seven minutes later despite appearing to handle the ball on his way toward goal…

The defeat meant England were no longer in control of their own destiny. In the event, results didn’t go their way and they failed to qualify for the 1994 finals in the States.

Taylor knew the significance of what he was watching unfolding and his animated, emotional reactions in the dugout (aimed largely at the referee) would become legendary.

At one stage he was recorded telling a match official: “The referee’s got me the sack, thank him ever so much for that won’t you.” But it was his exasperated outburst of the mangled phrase “Do I not like that” that stuck. A new footballing catchphrase was born.

Taylor was indeed sacked when England didn’t qualify, leading to The Sun infamously reducing him to a root vegetable on their front page…


Twenty years later Taylor said: “I lost the plot because I honestly and truthfully felt that England were being cheated in a vital game for the country.

“That was the worst I’ve ever been on a touchline. But that is the one time I end up on film, so that’s what people remember.”

You can follow Martin Cloake on Twitter at @MartinCloake and find more about his books and writing at www.martincloake.com

Posted in Featured, Managers, Newsnow, Retro, World Cup

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  1. A Nonny Moose says:

    English rose colored glasses much? Koeman’s foul was outside the box, without doubt (though yes, he should have been sent off). And Erwin Koeman was lucky as well. But then the goal Koeman scored should have been from a PK, not a free kick, as that foul actually WAS inside the box.

    Longer highlights:

  2. Chris says:

    England were on the end of some harsh decisions that night and played pretty well, thanks to a vibrant Paul Merson.
    We should have had a draw at least out of that match.

    But the damage was done when we had allowed the Dutch back into the match in the reverse fixture beforehand. Lets not forget the dutch elbow on Gazza’s face too. that not only broke his cheekbone it wasn’t punished either.
    Graham Taylor was also very unlucky with injuries. But his selection of Carlton Palmer will always have me holding the vomit bag

  3. Moxey says:

    “Do I not like that” was from another game wasn’t it? Norway or Poland maybe.

  4. Andre says:

    The Turnip first appeared after the Euro 92 match against Sweden when after a 2-1 defeat the Sun went with “Swedes 2 Turnips 1”

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