Joe Jordan – The Original ‘Hand Of God’

The Wales national football team don’t have the greatest history as a far football is concerned, they have only qualified for one World Cup Finals in 1958, where they were beaten 1-0 in the quarter finals, by the eventual winners Brazil.

In 1977 Wales played Scotland in a World Cup qualifying match, which, had they won, would have seen Wales reach the World Cup Finals in Argentina in 1978. A hand ball by Joe Jordan was to prove a decisive factor in the game, which Scotland won.

Even before the game, Wales were to lose their home ‘advantage’ when the fixture was re-scheduled to be played at Anfield, England, rather than in Wales at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. This followed the Football Association of Wales’ decision to move the game to secure a larger crowd and to make more money. A huge number of Scottish fans attended the game, far more than would ever have been possible at Wrexham, which created a very hostile atmosphere for the Welsh players who were also playing on an unfamiliar pitch.

The game itself remained goalless until, in the 78th minute, came the fateful moment for Wales following an incident with Scotland’s Joe Jordan

The Scotland striker, Jordan, jumped with Wales defender David Jones to challenge for a long throw-in into the Welsh penalty area, with Jordan then deliberately punching the ball towards the Welsh goal, to the astonishment of the Welsh fans and players, the French referee Robert Wurtz awarded a penalty. Television replays clearly showed it was Jordan’s and not Jones’ hand that had touched the ball, but the referee had made his decision.

Scotland’s Don Masson scored the penalty, which broke Wale’s hearts, and with minutes remaining as Wales pushed forward in search of an equalising goal, Kenny Dalglish scored a second goal and the Wales dream was over and it was Scotland who would go to the World Cup finals.

Prior to the game everyone in the Wales was talking about Argentina and the World Cup finals and many still feel upset about the incident to this day.

To rub salt into the Welsh wounds, Joe Jordan refuses to own up to his handball and has never apologised.

Diego Maradona was famously involved in a handball incident in the 1986 World Cup when he scored a goal against England, and then claimed it was the ‘hand of God’ that had intervened.

More recent ‘handball’ incidents include that of Thierry Henry in the qualifying game against Ireland for the 2010 World Cup Finals, which have now eclipsed Wales’ injustice, and while Joe Jordan has made never made any claims of divine intervention, he will be fortunate to find any Wales supporters who will forgive him easily.

Nicole Thomas

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