May 18. West Bromwich Albion beat Everton 1-0 with a Jeff
Astle goal to win the FA Cup. Skipper Graham Williams received
the cup from Princess Alexandra at Wembley after the match had
gone into extra time.
The next day the triumphant team came home to a crowd of 200,000.
"We would have been overjoyed if only half the number had turned
out," said one player.
It was the fifth time in their history that West Brom took the
Cup, although Everton were favourites to win. It was hardly a
classic match with passes lost and opportunities missed as both
teams slithered on a rain-soaked pitch.
But Albion's much-criticised defence rose to the occasion. "They
stood as steady as granite," reported the Express & Star,
"as tough as steel."
August 20: Russian and other Warsaw Pact troops rolled
into Czechoslovakia, crushing the liberal reforms which had been
known as the Prague Spring. Alexander Dubcek, the much-loved leader
of the new spirit, was carted off into captivity. Tanks on the
streets stifled any serious protest.
As in Hungary, 1956, Moscow was showing that it would not tolerate
any dissent in the ranks of those Soviet bloc states it claimed
as its own. It was a bitter blow in a year which, across the world,
became known as the Year of Revolution.
In London students fought with police outside the American Embassy
in London as they protested at the wanton killing of the war in
Vietnam. But the dissent of youth went deeper than one far-off
war. In Paris, thousands of students fed up with overcrowded classes
and demanding student control of campuses took to the streets
and fought running battles.
Soon they were joined by communists and striking workers. Tearing
up ancient cobblestones as ammunition, the rioters were driven
back by police wielding batons, rifle butts, tear gas and water
France was paralysed and for a while it looked as though the
Government would fall. The French President De Gaulle fled the
capital. Calm resumed after the government promised to listen
to student demands.
As a precaution, many old cobbled streets were covered in asphalt.
Traumatised Parisians chose to refer to this near-revolution simply
as Les Evenements (the events).
January 31. The Viet Cong used the cover of the Vietnamese
new year celebrations to launch their Tet Offensive. The guerillas
attacked at places all over the country but their most spectacular
success was in occupying the US Embassy in the heart of Saigon.
It was the last major operation staged by the VC who had been
badly mauled in earlier engagements with American forces. But
although Tet was a tactical failure for the Viet Cong, it was
a huge blow to American public opinion.
Raised on a daily diet of victories, the US public was horrified
to see the enemy within the embassy compound, technically US territory.
The demand to get out of Vietnam as quickly as possible was growing.
April 21. In a speech at Birmingham the Wolverhampton
South-West MP, Enoch Powell, condemned the government's immigration
policy as madness and declared: "Like the Roman, I see the River
Tiber foaming with much blood."
His "Rivers of Blood" speech was too much for prime minister
Edward Heath, who promptly sacked Powell as shadow defence minister.
And yet no-one denied that the speech struck a chord in white,
working-class areas where many took to the streets in support
of Enoch Powell.